U.S. Crushes China

Posted by John Schuhmann

Iguodala had a couple of these on Saturday. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – The U.S. National Team got their first taste of international competition with a closed scrimmage against China on Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. With the Garden about 95 percent empty, it wasn’t quite the same atmosphere as when these two teams last met (opening night of the 2008 Olympics).

The score was reset after each quarter, but in total, the U.S. won 98-51. China, however, did win the fourth quarter 17-16.

Danny Granger led all scorers with 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting (3-for-4 from 3-point range). Rudy Gay had seven rebounds and Rajon Rondo had seven assists.

Here is the final boxscore.

***

FIRST QUARTER

Starters: Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Tyson Chandler

Score: USA 20, China 11

Lamar Odom was the first sub, checking in for Chandler and playing in the five. Then Derrick Rose and Stephen Curry subbed in for Rondo and Billups. After that, Rudy Gay replaced Iguodala and Danny Granger replaced Durant.

Though the U.S. struggled a bit offensively out of the gate (scoring on just three of their first nine possessions), they held China scoreless for their first six possessions and jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

Then things picked up offensively when Granger came in. He scored his team’s final 10 points of the quarter: a left wing three off a drive-and-kick from Rose, a pull-up elbow jumper, a contested layup on the break, and a right-wing three against a zone.

***

SECOND QUARTER

Starters: Rose, Eric Gordon, Iguodala, Durant, Odom

Score: USA 27, China 15

Another 7-0 start for the U.S., with Durant having his hands in all seven. On the second possession of the quarter, China went to zone, but somehow left the NBA’s leading scorer all alone at the foul line. Result: Easy 15-foot turnaround jumper. He then got a dunk on a break and fed Gordon for a right-wing three on the possession after that.

China committed nine turnovers in the period, resulting in 19 of the U.S. Team’s 27 points. The U.S. got out on the break plenty in this quarter, with Durant, Iguodala and Gay all getting highlight dunks.

Midway through the quarter, China was in a zone and their coach Bob Donewald Jr. shouted out “Back of 41! Not a shooter!” No. 41 is Derrick Rose, and he promptly nailed a wide-open three from the right wing. Oops.

***

THIRD QUARTER

Starters: Rondo, Gordon, Durant, Granger, Chandler

Score: USA 35, China 8

The U.S. played zone for the entire 10 minutes, and this was their most effective quarter. They forced another nine China turnovers, held them scoreless for one stretch of 11 straight possessions, and won the period 35-8.

Gordon caught fire for a bit in the middle of the period and Russell Westbrook had a pair of highlight dunks off of turnovers in the backcourt.

***

FOURTH QUARTER

Starters: Rose, Westbrook, Iguodala, Gay, Durant

Score: China 17, USA 16

Yes, you read that lineup right. Durant was the center of a 2-3 zone, and China started the period with 7-foot-3 Zhang Zhaoxu on the floor. Afterward, U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said that this lineup was a bit of an experiment.

“That last period is all experimentation,” the coach said.

The U.S. struggled more offensively than defensively in this quarter though. They scored just 11 points on their first 17 possessions, committing three turnovers along the way.

The quarter was tight throughout and the U.S. took a 14-13 lead when Tyson Chandler blocked a Yi Jianlian drive and Eric Gordon got a fast-break dunk on the other end.

Gordon then fouled Liu Wei on the perimeter. Liu put China back up at the line, but Gordon answered back by drawing a foul on Yi and hitting both free throws.

So China had the ball, down 16-15 with 12.9 seconds left. The U.S. pressured them and they looked like they weren’t going to get a good shot off, but Granger was whistled for bumping Liu at the foul line with 1.3 seconds to go.

After Liu hit both freebies to put China up 17-16, Krzyzewski called timeout and drew up a play for either Gordon or Granger to get a shot. The ball went to Gordon and his fading three from the left wing fell short.

***

Neither Jeff Green nor JaVale McGee played at all. Official cuts have not been made yet, but it’s clear that Green and McGee will be two of the three. The team will probably still take McGee on their trip to Europe, however, just in case Tyson Chandler gets hurt before the World Championship begins.

The third cut? I think that one may be a much tougher decision. And it may not be made until closer to the World Championship.

“After the game tomorrow, we’ll make a decision to probably [make cuts],” Krzyzewski said. “But I’m not sure we’ll get down to 12.

“We want to go through tomorrow and not make decisions that we’ll regret a week from now. A week from now, we’ll be playing Lithuania (Aug. 21) and Spain (Aug. 22) in Madrid. And that type of situation will give us much more knowledge of how to pick the 12 than [the China scrimmage and France exhibition].

So they’re clearly not ready to make that final cut. It may be between Stephen Curry and Eric Gordon, but I think Russell Westbrook is also a possibility if they’re happy with three point guards on the roster.

***

Kevin Love played just 4 1/2 minutes, but that was more about his bruised calf than about his status on the team.

“I thought he attempted to play, but you could tell that he’s not 100 percent right now,” Krzyzewski said.

Love did have one of the nicer assists of the game, an inbounds baseball pass to Derrick Rose for a layup off a made free throw.

***

The U.S. pressed the entire game. Sometimes it was a man press, and sometimes it was a zone with a two-man front. It also varied in intensity. Obviously, the primary intent is to force turnovers, but even if they don’t, they’d like to take several seconds off the shot clock before their opponent gets into their offense. And China did have a few 24-second violations today.

Krzyzewski: “A victory for us will be to take five or six seconds off the clock.”

The half-court zone was pretty darn effective. We may see more of it than the staff had originally planned.

***

With Granger recovering from his finger injury and playing so well today, you can definitely add him to the forward rotation that I wrote about on Thursday. That means that Odom and Love will play almost exclusively at center and that Green and McGee would be needed only for emergencies.

“The three and the four, with Durant, Gay, Granger and Iguodala, is pretty solid,” Krzyzewski said. “And actually the five, with those two guys [Love and Odom] is good. So who do you want to be insurance or a back-up for a big?”

***

Rebounding was pretty solid for the U.S. China had nine offensive boards on 37 missed shots.

Krzyzewski: “I thought the attempt to rebound by everybody was there today.”

***

I wrote a story for this morning on turnovers and how they should be a concern for the U.S. Thursday’s intrasquad scrimmage at Radio City Music Hall was sloppy to say the least, and while I think you can blame the poor shooting on the odd setting, I don’t think there’s much of an excuse for the 27 turnovers the two teams committed. But the U.S. took care of the ball much better today than they did on Thursday. Just 11 turnovers total.

***

Durant finished with 14 points, but shot just 5-for-14 from the field. No one else shot particularly bad or (other than Granger) particularly well.

***

Thirty of the U.S. Team’s 75 field goal attempts were from 3-point range. They shot 11-for-30 from beyond the arc and 24-for-45 from inside it.

***

Rondo is Jason Kidd. He took just one shot, didn’t score a point, and dished out a game-high seven assists.

***

Tomorrow brings a real exhibition game against France, which you can watch live on ESPN2 at 1 p.m. ET. We’ll have a full preview of that on the site shortly. Don’t expect the French to be much of a test. They just lost two games to Canada by a combined 33 points.

Following the U.S.-France game, China will take on Puerto Rico. NBA TV will have that one at 3:30 p.m. ET.

***

Here’s a good read on JaVale McGee from Michael Lee of The Washington Post. I had no clue that McGee had asthma, and apparently, neither did he until late last season.

***

More USA Basketball coverage: Analysis | Blog

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Follow him on twitter.

30 Comments

  1. Barrett says:

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  2. Javier says:

    China and France are not good teams. I think the US are not going to win the championship, Spain or Serbia are beter teams, next Saturday in madrid we could see who is the best, if the referees call the starting steps the American players always do, and that were not called at the Olympics final.

  3. PUMAS07 says:

    I hope the USA wins gold at the world championships !

  4. jared says:

    Not a bad showing against France. I think Westbrook will get cut. Shout outs to Iggy, Rondo, Odom, Chandler, Gay, Chauncey, and Gordon- they all played great.

  5. Dvoice says:

    Its great USA won. But, getting beat by China in the fourth quarter shows they got work to do… they can’t do against better teams lie Italy and Brazil or they will get beat.

  6. as says:

    Hello. could someone tell me wher i could watch this game ?

  7. Wun says:

    Come on!
    Yi
    No Yao Ming
    China will lose
    We miss you,Yao
    Come back soon

  8. T says:

    I haven’t been too impressed with Westbrook’s play. He’s active defensively and can really get up and down the court, but I don’t like his shot selection. He overdribbles, turns the ball over and is out of control.

    As I’ve been saying all along, Gordon should make the team. Curry isn’t a physical player nor is he a tough defender, but his shooting, etc makes him a good fit. That leaves Westbrook as the odd man out. It’s tough, but somebody has to go home.

  9. jared says:

    Sup everyone, glad to see we put such a whoopin on China. I’m pretty pumped to watch us play France here in a few hours. Response to team USA 2010: chill out bro. First of all man, what we definitely don’t want to do is slow down the game. We are without a doubt the fastest, most athletic team and playing fast is playing to our strengths. Another thing is why are you backin up Javale Mcgee so much lol? The guy sucks man hes lucky to be out there with this group of guys. No time to rest Chandler, this is time to get everyone in sync with each other as much as possible.

  10. Ahmad says:

    I think Iran is not china.

    with haddahi they can’t score like that

  11. fred says:

    this is looking good so far but before you throw a party let us see how they do against a european team

  12. Dacha says:

    Oh men this is a real Dream Team !
    USA is so power team !
    The are not human they are aliens !

    I am from Serbia and we have a very good team but USA Dream Team is the best !

    I am a big NBA fan for a long years ago almost 13 years I am watching NBA basketball and I know all NBA players and their game style and their quality and I must said again this USA team is very strong, very power and very smart.

    All the best from Serbia to all NBA and USA fans around the world !

  13. ferbear says:

    lol at “Don’t expect the French to be much of a test…. They just lost to Canada” if only Steve Nash still play for Canada.. it’d a lil better

  14. has says:

    do they let anyone see their games? Because Madison Square empty, with these kind of players?

  15. I hate that all the writers say McGee is only going to Europe for insurance purposes before the last cuts are made. why do all the articles expect or want CHANDLER to get injured? i don’t understand y’all. i’m one of the biggest USAB fans & i’ve watched/studied Coach K & Jerry’s USAB thought process. they’ve done & continue to do a great job but have made errors in the past particularly w/06 team which resulted in US getting the bronze. don’t think that they’re are perfect, i have an 04 feeling about this team. we’re relying too much on our athleticism and we need to be more technically sound. it’s no secret what our plan is. but the smart countries are gonna try to slow down our pace by making their shots and not turning the ball over. then what r we gonna do? what if chandler/odom get into foul trouble? what if ODOM/CHANDLER are getting killed by their man, oh yes and Love’s already injured.What if we’re killing a team? it’d would be nice to rest CHANDLER & Co. let the young fella get out there and get more in game experience while our bigs rest up. WE NEED MCGEE PERIOD. Sure we’re gonna play the hand we have but McGee is the wild card. as i’ve said all over the internet, FIBA tourney’s are all about the unknown player that breaks out on the int’l stage and steals the show. spanoulis, basile, jasikevičius, oberto, jose ortiz, arroyo have all made names at our US teams expense. ALL THE YOUTH & RAW TALENT TALK ABOUT MCGEE IS BS !!! he could be valuable utility guy for US. just tell him what his role should be. defend, run the floor, set screens, and attack the rim on both sides of the floor. i think he’s an energy guy that doesn’t require minutes. who’s to say that having GREEN & JaVale on the bench could’ve been a test to see how they would react to that role. COACH K said it best. they don’t wanna make a cut we’re gonna regret. AFTER OUR THREE EXHIBITIONS IN EUROPE ALL YOU WRITERS ARE GONNA SAY WE NEED MCGEE ON THE TEAM IN TURKEY.

  16. Jay says:

    Great article!

  17. PUMAS07 says:

    I really hope they win the world championships this time.

  18. Woooooooohh.
    go team USA

  19. LAKESHOW24 says:

    I must agree great reiew, would you all agree that Kevin durant is the future face of the nba because it seems to me like he is taking on a leadership roll on this team. or do you think its all about Lame lebron?

  20. Beatdown says:

    Wow.. this is quite a disturbing beat down for China and a wake up call for their ambitious claim they will go to second round.
    Does anybody know where I can video clips for this game?
    Initially I really thought USA needed more options on #5 spot. No disrespect to Chandler but I thought there were other guys out there that deserved a spot, such as David Lee. But today it didn’t seem this was a problem for the USA, we shall see when USA meets tougher opponents later on in the stretch.

  21. zzanzabar says:

    Great coverage! It was like I was at the game. Wish they had televised it on NBA or something.

  22. John Henderson says:

    Where are the video highlights???

  23. D.Rose=Beast says:

    ““Back of 41! Not a shooter!” No. 41 is Derrick Rose, and he promptly nailed a wide-open three from the right wing. Oops.”

    Hahahaha, didn’t I tell you all that D.Rose have a 3 pt range now?

    • Dgrange says:

      you know the three point line is closer, so its just a mid range shot which Rose can hit, his nba three point is still struggling

  24. #9 says:

    Good job on reviewing da game, i was mad when it wasnt a live coverage but dis article settle it. I knew Rondo wuld b da jason kidd of dis team, i think da last cut is between Westbrook and Gordon (hard decision) i would pick Gordan though i think he fits better with dis team .Westbrook is good and a future beast but he brings everything that Rose brings, but 2 a lesser extent.

  25. Social_Justice says:

    I agree, they already have three guards that are capable and make the point very deep in Billups, Rose and Rondo. Regardless of how quick he is and how much he drives to the rim the bottom line is Rondo and Rose can do the same with a nd then some. Odom at the 5 is a wise move and is a complete mismatch for most centers in international play except for the few rough playing centers from the middle east and europe. This team will be so much fun to watch. It won’t be a complete mismatch with other countries for the current team USA’s lack of skilled bigmen, but since the Spain is playing without Pau then they should be good.

  26. bibby says:

    I think Danny might have been playing so well cause he knows he’s got some help on the pacers front.
    Bring it all year Danny!

  27. Wayne says:

    Great summary of the action. I’m looking forward to your coverage tomorrow. Conventional wisdom seem to be that the final roster spot is between Gordon and Curry. However, given your coverage so far, I’m wondering why Westbrook’s spot is so safe? Is it really just his familiarity with Durant? The international game really seems to place a premium on outside shooting, and your reports have indicated that both Gordon and Curry have been playing well, while Westbrook seems to be over penetrating and looking for the spectacular play. Westbrook is unbelievably quick, but a below average shooter. Also, the rotations you detailed seemed to have Westbrook lower on the depth chart. Does Team USA really need to carry 4 point guards (Billups, Rondo, Rose, Westbrook)?

    • johnschuhmann says:

      I agree with you that Westbrook might not be safe. Actually added a graph stating such after the initial post.