What started out as a tediously nervous first quarter ended as a dunk-a-thon by the youngest stars on Team USA.
Kevin Durant danced, Kobe rested and Anthony Davis threw down three monster dunks as the Americans went on to rout Tunisia 110-63.
Tunisia started hot, and amazingly held a slim one-point lead in the first quarter by doing what the Americans could not. Tunisia went 3-for-3 from downtown while the U.S. team missed their first eight three-pointers.
It was a tense first quarter as the Americans held a slim lead over a country that is making its Olympic debut in the sport during these 2012 Olympics.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski was obviously not pleased, and he proceeded to take out his entire starting lineup with three minutes left in the first in what could have been a sign of exasperation with his first unit.
Andre Iguodala, who came in on the mass substitution, then sparked the Americans with an aggressive put back from a Kevin Love missed three.
The athleticism of the second team helped the U.S. erase the small deficit as Igoudala and Russell Westbrook took over. The defensive pressure put on by the Americans helped ignite a 12-0 run in the early second quarter.
The aggression continued as LeBron James chased down Tunisia forward Salah Mejri on a fast break and pinned his dunk attempt between the rim and backboard.
Later in the quarter, James also gave Mohamed Hdidane a lasting memory.
With Kevin Durant headed down court on a fast break, he kicked it back to a trailing James, who gave the London fans the best Olympic slam since Vince Carter dunked over France’s Frederic Weiss.
The dunk over Hdidane was one of the many highlight reel plays that had the Americans leading at the half, 46-33.
Krzyzewski stuck with his younger unit after the half while marquee players like Kobe and LeBron rested.
The Duke coach preferred the speedy aggressive mixture of Igoudala, Westbrook and Kevin Love, who joined scorer Carmelo Anthony in extending the U.S. lead to 22 within the first two minutes of the third quarter.
Anthony and Love each added 16 points to the U.S. effort.
The young stars pushed the pace and helped the Americans put away Tunisia in the third.
A 39-point output in the third frame was highlighted by various dunks, including three by Davis, who was the first overall selection in this year’s NBA draft.
The Americans remain the only unbeaten team in their group; they will play Nigeria on Thursday.