BILBAO, Spain (Sept. 2, 2014) -- Leading by seven points after the game's first 10 minutes, the USA (3-0) quickly pulled away from New Zealand (0-3) with a 12-0 run in the second period and continued on to an impressive 98-71 win that saw six U.S. players reach double-figures and all 12 players score in the 2014 FIBA World Cup on Tuesday evening at Bizkaia Arena.
While the USA will play Dominican Republic (1-1) at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sept. 3 (ESPN2) and conclude its preliminary round on Sept. 4 against Ukraine (2-1) at 11:30 a.m. EDT (ESPN2), tonight's win assured the USA of at least a top-four finish in its group and a berth into the round of 16.
"It was a good solid performance," said USA coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University). "I thought the intensity was excellent. We were playing against a different offense, that's a really good offense that New Zealand runs, and it's a very difficult offense to defend with big guys because everybody is away from the basket. But overall it was good, we beat a team that really executes well and plays hard every second they are out there. So good response starting this three games in three days."
The USA's balanced attack was led by Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans) with 21 points and nine rebounds; Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets) finished with a 15-point, 11-rebound (seven offensive boards) double-double; James Harden (Houston Rockets) added 13 points and four assists; Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors) scored 12 points apiece; and Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) tallied 10 points and grabbed four steals.
"Each and every last one of us doesn't care who scores the ball, as long as we win," Faried said. "We are just trying to get the gold. We don't care who's out there scoring, who's out there rebounding, who's out there getting steals or the shine and glory. We just want to win games."
The USA forced 22 turnovers out of New Zealand, which it converted into 26 points, and won the rebounding battle 48-33. Further, 28 of the USA's points came off the fast break as the team recorded 21 assists.
"I think we did a pretty good job of coming out with some intensity," Harden said. "Last game we kind of struggled in the first half. Our pressure wasn't there. Second half of the last game we picked it up, so Coach K put emphasis on how important it was for us to come out with some intensity and kind of get it going from the beginning, and I think tonight we did."
The USA led by as many as 12 points in the first quarter, but two 3-pointers in the last 1:29 and a put-back at the buzzer for New Zealand allowed it close the gap to seven points, 27-20.
Helping the USA to break away was the USA's red-hot second-quarter shooting. The Americans were 10-of-14 from the field in the second quarter for an impressive 71.4 percent. Meanwhile, the U.S. defense cooled New Zealand to just 31.6 percent (6-19 FGs) and forced eight turnovers in the second period alone.
After outscoring New Zealand 30-15 in quarter, the USA headed to the locker room with a 57-35 lead.
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) for the first time started the second half on the floor, and Krzyzewski rolled out several different lineups.
"Well I put him (Rose) out there because he is one of the best players in the league," said Krzyzewski. "Also, he has to get minutes with the guys that are playing more minutes, because he is a guy who should play a lot of minutes. It's something that I thought about doing before the game, and it worked out that way. I thought Kyrie (Irving) played really well, and I thought Derrick played really well. But I didn't use them that much together tonight; I wanted to see them separate."
New Zealand actually outscored the USA 19-18 in the third quarter, but the USA maintained a comfortable lead of 75-54 at the end of the period.
The gap reached its widest margin - 34 points - when Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings) scored at 3:10 in the fourth quarter. Finishing the game by putting up 23 points to New Zealand's 17 in the final period, the USA secured the win.