"We should have won, but the way we won was excellent," said an obviously pleased USA coach Mike Krzyzweski.
The early introductions revealed that the Chinese team had a respectable contingent of loyal fans in a attendance. But those fans would soon be drowned about by the home team's raucous crowd (though those same American fans did take the time to throw some shade at new NBA-villain Kevin Durant...with some additional boos for Draymond Green as well.)
On this night the heavily favored Americans started Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, and DeAndre Jordan.
And the very first moments of the game saw the local hero Jordan block a shot and then sprint down the court for a lob-dunk finish to send the crowd into a frenzy.
Despite that auspicious opening sequence however, the USA Team started out very cold, missing on a number of wide open looks and in total making only two of their first twelve shots.
But later in the quarter when Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, and Kyrie Irving entered the game, followed shortly by Jimmy Butler, the offense definitely started to look more like what people expected.
Back-to-back treys by Durant quickly settled the team and the crowd and soon everyone's perimeter shots began to fall. By the end of the 1st quarter, USA led China, 26-13. Durant would eventually score a team-leading 19 points on the night.
In the second quarter it was his fellow Warriors teammate Klay Thompson who got hot, knocking down a pair of threes. He would finish with the game with 17 points.
Soon after DeMarcus Cousins found himself getting free inside as well and the lead began to extend further. Cousins went 5/5 and eventually finished with 12 points (all in the first half).
But the consistent, high-intensity defense by all of the NBA stars on the USA squad was the most notable story of the first half and indeed the entire game. American defensive pressure and length were a problem for China from the very opening moments.
With rare exceptions, the Chinese men struggled to find open looks on the perimeter. When they found the occasional path to the hoop, they often found Cousins or Jordan waiting for them when they got there.
At halftime, the score was 55-29.
While the shooting was streaky throughout the first half for the American team, Kyrie Irving did provide the crowd with a number of "oohs and "aahs" with crossovers that often left defenders in the dust.
On the other hand, China's brightest star in the first half was its own 6-1 point guard, the 20-year old Zhao Jiwei. The feisty Zhao seemed undaunted in the face of intense ball pressure by the Americans, still finding his way to the hoop with a quick first step and impressive handles. He produced a team-leading nine points in the first half on 4/5 shooting and would eventually score 14 points in the game.
China's leading scorer for the game would be former NBA player Yi Jianlian, who finished with 18 points.
The lead just continued to widen after the break and ballooned to forty points, 78-38 after three.
With the outcome a mere formality, the second half at times seemed like it might drift into an NBA All Star game mode, with the US stars cruising to victory seeking the occasional highlight play with minimal effort and intensity.
But thankfully the game never really deteriorated to that level, in part because the US team never really let up defensively, and also in part because the Chinese team consistently played hard until the end despite the score. This effort was rewarded by the Chinese contingent of fans who cheered each success enthusiastically...which in turn would fire up the US team and crowd.
"Our opponents played really hard," Krzyzweski stated repeatedly in reference to the Chinese team's effort.
But he was quite effusive about his own squad's focus and energy.. "Obviously we're more talented, but we played even harder."
Eventually it became clear that there would be no let up during this game as the US squad seemed to relish every minute of the blowout. An example being when the US bench exploded in joy, with Kevin Durant even doing a little dance celebration on the court, after DeMar Derozan made nifty layup. The basket put the Americans up by more than 50.
Krzyzweski indicated afterward that he had talked with his players before the game and had urged them "not to pace themselves...especially on the defensive end." With stifling defense until the final buzzer, it was clear that Team USA had played with just such an attitude.
By Manish Pandya