RIO DE JANEIRO — Kevin Durant and this new-look U.S. Olympic basketball team look just as dominant as the ones who slammed and jammed their way to the last two gold medals.
Durant picked up right where he left off in the 2012 Olympics with 25 points, and the Americans routed China 119-62 on Saturday in their opening game.
U.S. men’s hoops off to a hot start in Rio
Despite seeing the U.S. men’s basketball team twice in pre-Olympic exhibition games, China was no match for the star-studded Team USA in their Rio opener.
The new Golden State Warriors star scored 30 points in the gold-medal game four years ago, when the Americans held off Spain for the championship. Only he and Carmelo Anthony returned from that team, but the new guys were plenty ready for their Olympic moment.
Tougher competition might come later, but it should be an easy start for the Americans. They play again Monday against Venezuela, another team they beat easily in exhibition play.
Anthony finished with nine points and made history by becoming the first U.S. male to play basketball in four Olympics. He will become the first three-time gold medalist on the men’s side if the U.S. wins.
The Americans beat the Chinese twice in exhibition play by scores of 106-57 and 107-57, and this one was even less competitive.
Former NBA lottery pick Yi Jianlian had 25 points to open his fourth Olympics. No other players were in double figures for the Asian champions.
The Chinese got on the board first with a pair of free throws, and it was tied at 4 after a basket by Yi. Then it was nine straight points for the Americans, who closed the first quarter with a 26-6 burst to lead 30-10.
DeAndre Jordan shook the backboards inside Carioca Arena 1 with some of his powerful dunks, DeMar DeRozan had a couple, and in case the dunks were too easy, Irving knocked in four 3-pointers in the second half for his 12 points.
There were flags waving and fans singing, the festive scene in the stands more interesting to watch than the game that wasn’t competitive after the first few minutes.
The U.S. was favored by about 50 points, so it wasn’t supposed to be close.
If the Americans keep playing like this, the Olympic competition may not be, either.