Yet another slow start for the United States was followed by another dominating second-half performance, resulting in a 110-63 victory for the Americans.
The outcome was never in doubt, but the first quarter was disheartening to watch. Tunisia was firing on all cylinders, moving the ball well and knocking down threes, while the United States was playing lackadaisical defense.
Mike Krzyzewski got fed up with his starting five's lackluster start and subbed in five new players to get the job done—something they succeeded in doing.
The Russell Westbrook-Deron Williams rotation fared much better against Tunisia by playing more tenacious defense and refusing to settle for perimeter shots.
Westbrook and company headed into the locker room with a 13-point lead. By the time the third-quarter buzzer sounded, the lead had been stretched to 38 points and the route was on.
It became a dunk-fest towards the end, with Anthony Davis, Andre Iguodala and others rocking the rim at every opportunity they were afforded.
LeBron James throws down a thunderous, one-handed tomahawk slam off of a beautiful bounce pass from Kevin Durant.
We'll know Coach K is taking one of these Olympic games seriously when Durant, LeBron, Melo + Westbrook are playing at same time.— Bill Simmons (@sportsguy33) July 31, 2012
Not many people in the world get to say that they were once beating LeBron James and Kobe Bryant:
Tunisian players will forever be able to tell their kids: "One time, we had a lead against a team with Kobe Bryant AND LeBron James."— ESPN (@espn) July 31, 2012
Skip Bayless finally made a statement that wasn't snarky or belittling...kind of:
Stunned by how many foreign foes say this Team USA can be beaten. Latest: Batum. No respect. Maybe b/c Kobe aging, LeBron doubted in clutch.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) July 31, 2012
The NBA on ESPN touched on the cohesiveness and downright explosiveness of Team USA's second unit:
Early in the third quarter, Team USA's second unit stretches lead over Tunisia to 23 points.KD, Melo, Westbrook have 9 each.— The NBA on ESPN (@NBAonESPN) July 31, 2012
The faux Bill Walton compares the filming location of George Lucas movies to the efforts of Team USA:
35 years ago Tunisia was used by Lucas for scenes in Raiders of the Lost Ark & Star Wars. Today they are used by Team USA as dunk practice!— Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) July 31, 2012
Grades for Key United States Players
Carmelo Anthony: B
Carmelo Anthony was one of the only solid options for the United States on the perimeter. As usual, 'Melo has been a force for the United States in Olympic competition.
He didn't miss a shot on the night and finished tied for the team lead with 16 points in just 12 minutes of playing time.
Kevin Love: B
The Minnesota Timberwolves forward has been a bit of a disappointment in the 2012 London Olympics, but he had his first breakout game of the competition against Tunisia.
He equaled Anthony's scoring total and was nearly as efficient, going 6-of-9 from the field, including 3-of-5 from three-point land. He's going to need to up his rebound total (six) in the coming games, but he laid a great foundation today.
Grades for Key Tunisia Players
Mohamed Hadidane: C+
Mohamed Hadidane played the role of facilitator for his team on Tuesday. Although he didn't stuff the stat sheet, he gave the Americans trouble in the opening quarter with his surprisingly impressive passing skills.
Hadidane finished with 11 points on the night.
Makram Ben Romdhane: B
Makram Ben Romdhane was really the only serious threat for Tunisia on the night. He showed the ability to finish around the hoop in traffic, as well as a decent sense of rebounding.
He led his team with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Deciding Factor: Locker Room Pep Talk
Who knows what Coach K said to his team after their poor display in the first half, but apparently it was seriously motivational.
After building a 13-point lead by the time the halftime buzzer rang, the Americans came out and obliterated whatever chance Tunisia had of hanging around.
By the time 10 minutes had gone by in the third quarter, the United States led, 85-47.
Game MVP: Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant's numbers won't jump out at you in the box score, but he was one of Team USA's all-around best players on Tuesday.
He shot just 4-of-10 from the field en route to scoring 13 points, but also added 10 rebounds and five dimes to the American cause.
Team USA gets an off-day before a matchup against a very surprising Nigerian squad on August 2. There's no denying that every game before the gold-medal round is nothing more than a tuneup for Spain.
Tunisia also has a day off, but it won't be in as high of spirits as the Americans. Unfortunately for the Tunisians, they have to play a tough Argentina team on Thursday.