USA routs Finland in World Cup debut

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A quick look at Team USA’s 114-55 win over Finland in the opening game of the FIBA World Cup for the United States.What happened: A lot of destruction. Finland didn’t play terribly in the first quarter. They were a little amped with a massive home crowd behind them, and airballed a few shots, but overall, they managed to keep it respectable, trailing only 15.Then things got bad. Very, very quickly. In the second quarter, Team USA went on a 29-2 run. Yes, you read that right. The two points for Finland came on free throws. They did not score a field goal for the entire quarter. That was all she wrote. Finland played a bit better in the third quarter but still trailed by 50 after three.Klay Thompson led all scorers with 18, while Anthony Davis added 17, and Derrick Rose 12. DeMarcus Cousins finished with 10 rebounds and was very active in extended minutes.Finland’s guards were actually fairly effective, but between the presence of Anthony Davis deterring them and the pressure applied by the USA guards, there just weren’t any options. It’s a testament to the team’s defense that it clamped down as effectively as it did. James Harden was active and aggressive (no, really) and Davis (more on him later) was just a monster presence inside. But DeMarcus Cousins was also a huge muscle inside when Davis sat.You saw a lot of good things from Team USA, but the athleticism gap was still the largest problem for Finland. There will be some problems against better shooters and perimeter creators but Team USA can also play better than they did, which is scary since they won by nearly 60.
Three stars:
1. Anthony Davis (17 points, four rebounds) was the biggest impact player in this game. He had no blocked shots, but his presence inside kept sending Finland’s guards scurrying back out of the paint. Meanwhile offensively, he couldn’t be stopped. He had the mid-range jumper going and was bursting through two defenders with ease to get to the rim. Davis doesn’t looked like the most polished player on Team USA. But he did look like the most impactful.
2. James Harden (15 points, three rebounds, three assists) set the tone. Harden played with focus and intensity, creating steals at midcourt and getting to the rim, driving hard to create contact, and playing great defense. For a guy so maligned for his poor defensive work, it was great to see Harden sprinting to get to the shooter as he closed out. He was the most put-together player for the team, and it showed why he’s been singled out as a leader by coach Mike Krzyzewski.
3. Derrick Rose looked spry. He attacked and made plays. His defense was a little shaky and at points he would land and it looked like he was limping a bit, but then he’d turn around and make more plays. How Rose recovers will determine a lot about where he’s at, physically.
NOTES—Team USA faces Omer Asik and Turkey on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. CT. Turkey beat New Zealand 76-74 Saturday.