Basketball World Cup: U.S. pounds New Zealand
Americans imposed their will on Kiwis
Anthony Davis scored 21 points, Kenneth Faried had 15 and the U.S. remained unbeaten at the Basketball World Cup by beating winless New Zealand 98-71 on Tuesday.
James Harden added 13 points for the Americans, who will play two more games here before moving on to Barcelona for the round of 16. They face the Dominican Republic on Wednesday before wrapping up Group C play on Thursday against Ukraine.
Two nights after having to rally from a halftime deficit and pull away in the fourth quarter for a 98-77 victory over Turkey, the U.S. led this one wire to wire. The game was close only for a little more than a quarter.
BJ Anthony scored 11 points for New Zealand, which fell to 0-3.
The Americans paused late in warmups to stand and face the Tall Blacks, who performed the haka, their traditional war dance challenge. Fans enjoyed it, then were largely quiet throughout the first half as the bigger U.S. team imposed its will, not needing the kind of highlight plays fans expect of the NBA stars.
But there was no shortage of energy from Faried, the Denver Nuggets forward who seems intent on raising his profile as a largely overlooked player in the league.
The Manimal came into the game shooting 14 of 17 in the tournament and then made all five shots in the first half while also grabbing six rebounds.
He was just as active on defence, getting called for a third-quarter goaltend on a shot he blocked with such force that it landed behind the New Zealand bench.
Stephen Curry finished with 12 points for the U.S., getting his shot to fall after going just 4 of 17 through the first two games.
It was 27-20 after one and the Americans were ahead by nine in the second before a 12-0 run, featuring seven points from Irving, made it 50-29 on Faried's follow shot with 4:14 left. The Americans got into transition during that flurry, but were often content in the first half to pound it inside, taking advantage of Davis and Faried's muscle in the middle.
Harden had a couple of baskets early in the third quarter — he and Davis both throwing down impressive dunks — and the Americans kept building the lead en route to their 57th straight victory.