The United States received an unexpected challenge from an upstart Tunisia squad on Tuesday, leading by only single digits into the second quarter. But when LeBron James threw down a monster dunk midway through the second, the Americans finally started to pull away.
It's the type of dunk that will be a part of Olympic highlight reels for many years to come. Even the Tunisians appeared in awe after watching James soar through the air before rocking the rim with the greatest of ease.
Team USA, which continues to get compared to the Dream Team every step of the way during its London journey, was leading by just eight at the time of James' dunk. The play really seemed to wake up and energize the entire team.
Even though the players will insist they take every single game seriously, it's tough for a team with as much talent throughout the roster as the United States to get overly enthusiastic about a game they are expected to win easily.
The first quarter and a half should help Mike Krzyzewski and his coaching staff illustrate to the team that they can't win simply by stepping on to the court. Every game is going to take some effort to put away the opponent.
Tunisia was able to keep it close because it was the more aggressive team early on. Makrem Ben Romdhane and Co. were attacking the rim while the United States were settling for quick outside jumpers, allowing the game to remain surprisingly close.
That all changed after James' thunderous dunk. The Americans started getting in the paint for easy layups and dunks, never looking back en route to a 47-point victory.
Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love led the way with 13 points apiece. Six players reached double digits, including Anthony Davis, who was terrific on both ends of the floor. In all, the United States shot 73 percent from inside the arc and 40 percent from beyond it.
It was really a perfect game for Krzyzewski. His team ended up cruising to the win and he was able to distribute the playing time pretty evenly across the board to help keep players fresh. Yet, there was still room for improvement, so he can urge the team to get better.
As it stands, nothing hasn't happened during Team USA's first couple games to change the tournament outlook. The Americans are still the gold-medal favorites. It would take an amazing effort from another team to knock them off, and even that might not be enough.
If the United States do win gold, you can bet James' dunk will play a major role in the highlight tape afterwards.
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