After claiming a second exhibition victory in the lead up to their gold-medal defense at the 2016 Rio Summer Games, United States head men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said his squad of the NBA’s finest is improving ahead of the Olympics opener next month. Team USA has three remaining exhibition games on the schedule before making the trip to Brazil.
Behind new Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant’s 19 points and his new teammate Klay Thompson’s 17 points, Team USA trounced China 106-57 on Sunday by forcing 26 turnovers and blew the game wide open with a 23-9 showing in the third quarter.
Along with Durant and Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins, Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan, and Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan all scored in the double figures.
Durant also added five assists, as did the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony and the Raptors' Kyle Lowry. The heavily favored squad is averaging 26.5 assists a contest thus far, a sign the litany of stars has no problem sharing the ball just yet, but Durant has been the featured scorer by averaging 21 points a game and shooting 63 percent from the floor.
Krzyzewski said his roster is starting to mesh even more following the 111-74 blowout win of Argentina, while also crediting China’s defense ahead of another matchup Tuesday in Oakland, which will technically serve as Durant’s first time in front of the Warriors crowd.
"We got better today. I think we are learning more about one another. Our defense was there pretty much the whole game,” he said. “We got better. We shared the ball even better. They’re two different teams. Argentina has four guys who have played, if you add their international experience, they’ve probably played I bet 800-1000 games for their country. Here, the Chinese team is a younger Team. Yi [Jianlian] is an outstanding player, but the other guy. I was impressed with China’s ball pressure and denial on defense. They played really hard and I thought defensively well. Our offense and our athleticism, that’s a little bit too much for them.”
With two-time reigning silver medalist Spain and rival Argentina leading off Group B, Team USA shares Group A with Australia, China, France, Serbia, and Venezuela.
And the two exhibitions with China, followed by the rest of the warm-up schedule will likely serve as a solid primer for group play and perhaps the tournament’s later stages. After the second exhibition with the Chinese, Team USA next heads to Chicago to face Venezuela, and closes the exhibition schedule against Group B’s Nigeria.
Anthony, who’s seeking a record third gold medal, largely reflected Krzyzewski’s point of view as next month’s trip to Rio looms.
“Today, it was all about getting better,” Anthony said. “We still have a ways to go before we get to Rio. We are still trying to get used to guys, get used to each other. We’ve only been together a little over a week, so it’s going to take some time but we need games like this to get comfortable. ”
USA Men’s Basketball Schedule
Friday, July 22: USA over Argentina, 111-74
Sunday, July 24: USA over China, 106-57
Tuesday, July 26: USA vs. China at Oracle Arena in Oakland, 10 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
Friday, July 29: USA vs. Venezuela at United Center in Chicago, 9 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
Monday, Aug. 1: USA vs. Nigeria at Toyota Center in Houston, 8 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
Olympics Preliminary Rounds
Saturday, Aug. 6: USA vs. China at Carioca Arena 1 in Rio, 6 p.m. ET
Monday, Aug. 8: USA vs. Venezuela at Carioca Arena 1 in Rio, 6 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Aug. 10: USA vs. Australia at Carioca Arena 1 in Rio, 6 p.m. ET
Friday, Aug. 12: USA vs. Serbia at Carioca Arena 1 in Rio, 6 p.m. ET
Sunday, Aug. 14: USA vs. France at Carioca Arena 1 in Rio, 1:15 p.m. ET