Entering their Tuesday match against the United States, New Zealand had yet to win a FIBA World Cup game. So it wasn’t much of a competitive struggle for the United States who began the game with energy and fast breaks after every New Zealand miss, of which there were many. It didn’t take long for the U.S. to build a double digit lead by sharing the offensive wealth. Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried scored from the inside. Steph Curry had his jumper going.
Derrick Rose had more energy than he had in the game against Turkey. Klay Thompson hit his corner three. It looked more like a scrimmage or practice than a World Cup game. Simply, New Zealand didn’t have the talent nor the size to compete with the United States. New Zealand kept the game respectable by making three point shots but on defense they were unable to handle the U.S. quickness and athleticism and their open court game overwhelmed New Zealand. Midway through the 2nd quarter Coach K rested his best players and put Mason Plumlee and DeMar DeRozan into the game. By the time the first half was over the United States had a 22 point lead.
With the game no longer in doubt, Coach K changed combinations and started Derrick Rose to begin the third quarter so he could develop chemistry with starters like James Harden and Kenneth Faried. The challenge was to keep the players engaged in the game and not to slip into casualness especially with defensive intensity. Kenneth Faried, and his manic energy on the court kept the level of engagement high as the United States built a lead up to 30 points. New Zealand did as well as expected, losing by 27.
Next: Dominican Republic, Wednesday