Kevin Durant made his Oracle Arena debut as a member of the Golden State Warriors and the home team was not disappointed in any way.
USA Basketball is now a convincing 3-0 in their five-exhibition warm-up tour around the United States leading up to the 2016 Olympic games in Rio. They won by 37 points in the first game against Argentina. In their second warm-up, they beat China by 49 points in Los Angeles. And that left them with a second straight game against China on Tuesday when they played them at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
The Stars and Stripes didn’t disappoint with another gigantic victory over a China team that was playing this time without former NBA player Yi Jianlin. USA Basketball won 107-57 and ran away with this thing from the beginning. They have a game in Chicago and a final exhibition in Houston before they head to Brazil.
Here are five takeaways from the latest blowout victory by Team USA on this exhibition tour:
Kevin Durant’s Oracle Arena debut as a Warrior had a great start
Kevin Durant scored the first 10 points of the game for Team USA in his new home arena. This was the first time Durant played a game at Oracle Arena as a member of the Golden State Warriors. His teammates in the red, white, and blue made sure he got used to his surroundings right away. After winning the tip, they got the ball to KD immediately and he hit a 3-pointer from the left wing.
He got a dunk shortly after that. Next thing you know, he’s up 10-6 on China all by himself. He only ended up finishing with 13 points in 19 minutes, but he looks pretty comfortable on that court moving forward.
Olympic Melo is back and he’s spectacular
Carmelo Anthony is probably the greatest scorer in USA Basketball history. He once scored 37 points in 14 minutes against Nigeria. He scored 16.3 points per game in just 17.7 minutes per game in the 2012 Olympics. He doesn’t need a lot of time on the court with the shorter 3-point line in order to throw a scoring flurry that another country can’t seem to handle. This is what happens when Melo is on a super-team, so I guess Derrick Rose is pretty excited watching these exhibitions.
In the victory over China, Melo destroyed once again. He started getting hot from midtown (which is actually downtown in international play). He went 7-of-12 from the field and 4-of-8 from deep. You knew he was getting going when he started pulling up for jumpers off the dribble and pulling his hands back quickly instead of flicking with the follow-through. That’s when you know Melo is getting stupid hot with his shooting. He finished with 20 points in just under 15 minutes of play. It wasn’t quite the performance against Nigeria, but it feels like he has another one of those in him.
DeMarcus Cousins is going to eat another player at some point this summer
Despite the flurry from Carmelo, DeMarcus Cousins actually ended up leading Team USA in scoring for the night. He put in 21 points on 7-of-8 from the field and 7-of-11 from the free throw line. He chipped in with 11 rebounds and five of them coming on the offensive end. He was too big and strong for Argentina. He was too big, strong, and agile for China in this third exhibition game. When it gets to the real games in Rio, I’m not sure which country even has the size to truly worry about him.
If that defender exists, Cousins is going to foul him out and then eat his backup for lunch. We even had moments in this game in which he was running the floor and trying to tear down the rim. The only way to stop him was to foul him and hope the ball slipped as he went up for the And-1. Good luck with that, rest of the world. It’s not too late to naturalize Godzilla.
DeMar DeRozan tried to throw down a 360 dunk with a defender at the rim
Toward the end of the game with the outcome long decided, DeMar DeRozan tried to start an international incident. He came down the left side of the floor, saw a defender that was going to meet him at the rim, and he decided to try to one-up the Vince Carter posterization of Frederic Weis all of those years ago. DeRozan attempted a 360 dunk on someone’s head like this was just something regular you do in a basketball game.
The USA Basketball bench ended up getting a technical foul after the play. It probably came from Kevin Durant leaving the bench, walking the baseline, and getting somewhere around the restricted area under the hoop before he did a spin to celebrate the attempt. I think Team USA is comfortable giving up a technical free throw attempt though.
The only dramatic thing about these exhibitions might be the point spread
The 50-point win by the U.S. gave them their second close cover against China in as many games. When they played on Sunday, the point spread was USA Basketball minus-48.5 for the game. They won by 49 points. The point spread for Tuesday’s exhibition was Team USA 49.5 points. They won by 50. Vegas is terrifyingly good at setting these lines.
Next exhibition for USA Basketball will be on Friday when they take on Venezuela in Chicago.
Courtesy: CBS Sports