USA Men Open Olympic Play With Convincing 101-70 Win Over Host China
Aug. 10, 2008 - Beijing, China
'It was an honor for us to be in this game. I thought the Chinese team and our team both played extremely hard. I was proud of our effort,' said USA and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewksi. 'We have great respect for the Chinese team and the Chinese people, and I thought that was displayed in the effort that we showed. It showed a great deal of respect for the level of play and the country that China is.'
LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) contributed 18 points and six rebounds, while Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) and Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic) rounded out the USA's double-digit scorers with 13 points each.
'I'm glad we finally played. It feels like we've been waiting forever to play our first game here,' Wade said. 'Running out on the court here, feeling the crowd roar when we came out, the emotions that were everywhere, we're just glad to be a part of this game. China did a great job of playing very hard for their fans, too. I think the fans in China got a great show tonight.'
Yao Ming opened the game with a 3-pointer at 9:37, and the basket was an indicator of things to come as China made two more threes in the next three minutes to take a 9-7 lead at 6:43. Following another bucket from China at 6:30, James finished at the rim and then converted off a fast break assist from Bryant to tie the game at 11-11 with 4:47 remaining the period. Bryant sank a deep 3-pointer at 4:20 to give the Americans the lead, and from there the two teams traded baskets to bring the score to 20-16 at the first break.
As China continued its long-range attack in the second quarter, the USA exploited its speed and athleticism to dominate the interior. Zhu Fangyu opened the period with another basket from beyond the arc to pull China within one point of the red, white and blue, 20-19, but Wade slammed home a reverse dunk and Howard scored off a no-look feed from James to push the U.S. lead to five points, 24-19 at 8:49. As the USA raced ahead for transition dunk after fast break lay-up, including eight more points from both Wade and Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors), China sank three 3-pointers to hold the U.S. advantage to 12 at halftime, 49-37.
While the USA shot a dismal 1-of-12 from 3-point in the first half, China was an impressive 8-of-16. The effort wasn't enough, however, to counter the USA's scorching 83.0 percent from inside the arc (20-24 FGs) in the game's first 20 minutes. By the halftime intermission, the USA had scored 38 of its eventual 60 points in the paint.
'We've been shooting the three alright, and I think we were just a little excited,' said Jason Kidd (Dallas Mavericks). 'Emotions were high. It's like you have Big Brown, the horse, I'm the jockey trying to hold him back and these guys broke the reins. It's just that the emotions were so high, you try to suppress them and we missed some wide open shots Hopefully we come back the next game and knock those down.
The U.S. lead remained moderate through the first five minutes of the third period, and an offensive rebound and tip in from Zhu Fangyu brought the score to 56-43 in the USA's favor at 4:34. Bosh collected and scored on his own offensive rebound at 4:02 and ignited an 18-5 U.S. run that closed the third quarter with the U.S. up 74-48 and put the game firmly out of the host country's reach.
Yao, who finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, was whistled for his fourth foul at 4:45 in the fourth quarter and headed to the bench with applause from the crowd. China, however, nearly kept pace with the USA in the final 10 minutes, scoring 22 points to the USA's 27 to bring the final tally to 101-70.
Bosh, who also grabbed eight rebounds, and Michael Redd (Milwaukee Bucks) each scored all nine of their points in the second half; Deron Williams (Utah Jazz) finished with nine points and four rebounds; and Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets) dished a game-high six assists.
In Sunday's other contests, Group A action saw Russia (1-0) roll over Iran (0-1) 71-49 as J.R. Holden tallied 19 points and Andrey Kirilenko added 15 more; Linas Kleiza drained a three in the game's final seconds to propel Lithuania (1-0) to a 79-75 win over defending Olympic champion Argentina (0-1); and Croatia (1-0), which featured five players in double figures, disposed of Australia (0-1) 97-82. In Group B play, Spain took an important clash against Greece by an 81-66 score as Rudy Fernandez tallied 16 points; and Germany (1-0), behind NBAers Chris Kaman's 24 points and Dirk Nowitzki's 23 points, pounded Angola (0-1) 95-66.
Olympic men's basketball preliminary round action is being staged Aug. 10-18. The U.S. continues preliminary play versus Africa zone champion Angola on Aug. 12 at 8:00 p.m. (all times listed are Beijing local time, which is 12 hours ahead of EDT); on Aug. 14 at 8:00 p.m. the USA will face 2006 World Championship runner-up Greece; 2006 FIBA World Champion Spain on Aug. 16 at 10:15 p.m.; and the USA will close out preliminary play Aug. 18 at 8:00 p.m. against Germany, third place finisher at the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The men's Olympic quarterfinals action takes place Aug. 20, semifinals play is slated for Aug. 22 and the Olympic men's gold and bronze medal games will be held Aug. 24.
Serving as 2008 USA Basketball Men's Senior National Team assistant coaches are Syracuse University and Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, New York Knicks head mentor Mike D'Antoni and Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan.