Two years ago, the Americans crushed China 121-90 in the world championships in Japan. Yesterday, it was a similar result with United States men’s basketball team beginning their gold medal quest with a 101-70 victory over host China. The last time the Americans captured the gold medal was in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Chinese center, Yao Ming hit the first shot of a game, which happened to be a three-pointer that set the tone for Chinas proficient outside shooting in the first half. Yao’s three pointer caused the 11,083 to erupt in Beijing’s Wukesong Indoor Stadium.
China played the Americans tough, and only trailed the heavily favored US by four after the first quarter. China soon tied the game at 29 all on a three pointer. Dream 4.0 responded by going on a 16-3 run capped off by thunderous dunks by LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Chris Bosh. The Americans would take the lead a 49-37 at halftime and did not look back the rest of the game. However, they had outside shooting woes going 1-12 behind the arc in the first half while the Chinese hit eight of their first 12 shots from downtown.
In the second half, the Americans showed their superior depth and defense prowess. They outscored China 52-33 and forced China into multiple turnovers while tightening up their perimeter defense forcing the Chinese to take more contested three-pointers in the second half. In the last two quarters, the U.S. shot better from downtown, making six three-pointers. Good outlet passes off long rebounds, along with their 14 steals, led to many easy fastbreak points for the Americans. The U.S. limited an already hobbled, Yao Ming, as the 7′5″ big man finished with 13 points on 3-of-9 shooting.
Dwayne Wade led the U.S with 19 points making all of his seven shooting attempts off the bench. He was 5-5 from the free throw line and continues to play like the teams most consistent scoring option. Lebron James finished with 18 points, six rebounds, three assists and three outstanding blocks. Yi Jianlian, Chinas second best player was held to 4-13 shooting (0-8 with the game still in question) due to Jame’s aggressive man-to-man defense. Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant scored 13 points, Chris Bosh and Michael Redd each contributed with nine points coming in the second half.
Team USA came out with a chip on their shoulder after a disappointing bronze medal in Athens in 2004. They dominated the home country of China with suffocating defense and a transition game that is one for the ages. However, the U.S. needs to shoot better from downtown against zone defenses and play more consistent perimeter defense throughout an entire 40 minute game to get through the likes of Spain and Greece. The next U.S. game will be tomorrow against Angola at 8am EST.