LONDON – Halftime ended. Showtime began.
The U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team needed awhile but eventually put on the show fans came to see, beating Tunisia 110-63 on Tuesday night.
Finally pulling away when coach Mike Krzyzewski started the reserves to open the second half, the Americans had six players in double figures and improved to 2-0 in the tournament.
Krzyzewski insists he planned to start the second unit even before a lackluster first half and said he there was nothing bad about the Americans’ performance.
It’s not going to a perfect thing, you know? he said. But overall tonight was good. I mean, come on, it was 110-63.
True, it was a 47-point blowout, but the lead was just 13 at the half and he sure didn’t look pleased as he walked quickly to the locker room. But if he didn’t see anything wrong, the players sure did – though they weren’t concerned.
We told him, don’t get worried, Carmelo Anthony said. We’re all right.
They sure were.
Anthony, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Andre Iguodala opened the third quarter with a 21-3 run, turning a surprisingly close 13-point lead into a 67-36 bulge before any of the more celebrated starters finally got to play in the second half.
That was a great lift, man. That’s the best thing about this team, there’s no drop-off, Kevin Durant said. We’ve got all-stars off the bench. Those guys did great job for us.
Anthony and Love scored 16 points apiece for the Americans, who gave the fans the dunk show they expected once the game was in hand.
Durant had 13 and rookie Anthony Davis dunked his way to 12.
But they had to work hard to make this one look easy.
The game against the Olympic newcomers wasn’t expected to be close for more than a few minutes. The daily preview in the press center said it could prove to be one of the most lopsided matchups of London 2012.
The Americans maybe expected this would simply be like a practice – they even decided to cancel today’s workout nearly 11 hours earlier.
Yet they found themselves in a five-point game late in the first half, launching three-pointers when they couldn’t be stopped inside.
The second unit simply appeared to compete much harder, with Williams even playing one defensive possession with one shoe after the other fell off. Love briefly had to come out after banging knees but was able to return later.
It’s a different game to get ready for and I thought as a team overall we were ready, but it took like our bench to get us going defensively, Krzyzewski said.
Makram Ben Romdhane scored 22 for Tunisia, the African champion playing in just its second Olympic game.
A wire-to-wire loser Sunday against Nigeria, they’ll be able to tell their kids their first Olympic lead came against the powerful Americans.
They could have absolutely have taken us to the cleaners but coach K’s discipline made sure that didn’t happen, Tunisia coach Adel Tlatli said through an interpreter.