Facing a team in China that they blew out on two pre-Olympic exhibitions (by 50 and 49 points, respectively), the United States was expected to begin its run to a fourth consecutive gold medal in men’s basketball with an impressive showing at the Carioca Arena Saturday night. Mike Krzyzewski’s team took care of business as expected, battling through a couple short stretches of sloppiness to defeat the Chinese by the final score of 119-62 to move to 1-0 in Group A play.
While China managed to score the first two points of the game, that was the only semblance of control that they would enjoy in this one. Kevin Durant scored a game-high 25 points and dished out six assists for the Americans, with DeMarcus Cousins adding 17 points and five rebounds and Kyrie Irving 12 points and five assists. Irving made four three-pointers on the night, with three of those coming during a third quarter stretch in which he made three consecutive from beyond the arc. Paul George, who two years ago suffered a horrific leg injury that kept him out of that years World Cup of Basketball, added 15 points in the win.
The Americans pulled away during the latter stages of the first quarter, leading 30-10 through one, and a 16-0 run in the third quarter proved to be the catalyst the United States “needed” to win by 57 points. They shared the ball offensively, with 31 of their 38 made field goals being assisted and six players finishing the game with at least three assists.
The United States limited China to 37 percent shooting from the field while also forcing the underdogs into 21 turnovers. Yi Jianlian, who spent some time earlier in his career in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks, paced China with 25 points and six rebounds. The United States returns to action Monday night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern when they take on Venezuela, another team the Americans beat during their pre-Olympic exhibition tour.
When DeMarcus Cousins makes his Olympic debut next month in Rio, he’ll be the slimmest and trimmest of his professional career. Estimates have the 6-foot-11 center around 20 pounds lighter.
The reason? Hot yoga.
Soon after his Sacramento Kings season ended in April, he began attending yoga classes in heated rooms. He’s continuing the routine even while the U.S. Olympic team camp is ongoing in Las Vegas. Cousins let a sports writer join him at a session this week in which the room was “therapeutically heated for 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity.”
“I feel great,” Cousins said afterward. “It’s just that feeling of your body detoxing every workout, so that’s one thing. I feel a lot lighter on my feet. Of course I’ve slimmed down. I’m a lot more flexible, a lot more mobile, so it’s all coming together for me.”
U.S. head coach Mike Krzyzewski has noticed.
“He’s gotten in unbelievable shape for this,” Krzyzewski said. “He wants to be here and he wants to represent his country, and I’m proud of the progress he’s made.”
The loose and limber feeling yoga leaves him with has Cousins hooked. The next level, which he’s trying but has yet to conquer, is hot sculpting class: yoga, pilates, weights and high-intensity intervals.
“That’s a whole other level,” he said. “That’s tough. I’m still trying to get the hang of that, but I enjoy that as well.”
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Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was told he made his first U.S. Olympic team, according to reports citing unnamed sources Friday.
Cousins, 25, was an All-NBA Second Team player this season, making his second All-Star team and ranking fourth in the league in points per game (26.9) and fifth in rebounds per game (11.5).
If Cousins plays in the Olympics (the 12-man roster is expected to be named later this month), he could be in line for major minutes given the withdrawal from Olympic consideration by fellow big men Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Cousins came off the bench behind Davis at the 2014 FIBA World Cup, averaging 9.6 points and 5.6 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game.
Other big men who could make the Olympic team include 2012 Olympian Kevin Love, 2008 Olympian Dwight Howard and 2014 FIBA World Cup teammates Andre Drummond and Kenneth Faried.
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