It took over a quarter, but eventually USA started playing like USA in a 113-69 victory over Venezuela in Monday’s preliminary round, Group A game.
In a first quarter that ended in a 18-18 tie, defense was the USA’s saving grace. The Americans struggled to make open shots and turned the ball over with sloppy play, but made sure to contest every shot by Venezuela.
Once USA started knocking down open shots, the score rapidly separated. Venezuela, suffocated by tight man-up defense, was outscored 30-8 in the second quarter.
Carmelo Anthony hit a pair of 2nd-quarter three’s to help push USA’s lead into the 20’s, while also passing Michael Jordan for 3rd-most career points by a US player in the Olympics. It was also Anthony’s 25th career Olympic Game, breaking a tie with David Robinson and LeBron James for most career Olympic Games played. He finished with 14 points and now sits at 262 career Olympic points, trailing Robinson on the points list by 8, and 12 points away from passing James as the all-time leading scorer.
Paul George led USA with a game-high 20 points on 6-7 shooting, all off the bench. Kevin Durant, who scored the team’s first seven points of the game, finished with 17 points on a perfect 5-5 from the field.
George also came away with the highlight of the game, an explosive one-handed tomahawk dunk. This after being on the business end of a highlight in the game against China.
Up next for USA is a preliminary round game against Australia on Wednesday at 6 pm.