The United States' Men's National Team beat China for the third time in two weeks on Saturday. This time, it was in a game that counted.
The U.S. opened pool play and improved to 131-5 in Olympic competition with a 119-62 win. In doing so, it extended its winning streak in official international competition, which goes back to the 2006 World Championship, to 46 games. Its average margin of victory against China in two exhibitions and Saturday's game was 52 points.
The Americans missed their first five shots, trailed 2-0, and scored just once on their first six possessions. But Kevin Durant got them going with a left-wing jumper and combined with Carmelo Anthony to score or assist on all 13 points as the U.S. scored six straight times to build a nine-point lead. The U.S. finished with 28 points on their final 16 possessions of the first quarter, led 30-10 going into the second and cruised from there.
Durant led the U.S. with 25 points on 10-for-14 shooting. DeMarcus Cousins added 17 points and Kyrie Irving caught fire for four 3-pointers in a 126-second span late in the third quarter.
The U.S. defense was even stronger than its offense. In putting together a 34-8 run spanning the first and second quarters, it allowed China to score just four times on 22 possessions. China finished with more turnovers (24) than field goals (20). Yi Jianlian (25 points on 8-for-19 shooting) was the only Chinese player in double figures.
The U.S. started Irving, Klay Thompson, Durant, Anthony and Cousins, but played all 12 players in the first half and used an entirely different unit to start the third quarter.