After slow start, Team USA goes on to Dominate Tunisia
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ISTANBUL — Eric Gordon scored 21 points and the United States pulled away after a sluggish first half to beat Tunisia 92-57 on Thursday in its final game of pool play at the world championship.
With nothing to play for, the Americans sleepwalked through most of the early start, leading the winless team by only four points early in the third quarter before turning it into a rout over the final 15 minutes.
The top seed from Group B, the United States (5-0) will play Angola, the No. 4 seed from Group A, on Monday.
The Americans misfired on nine of their 10 3-point attempts in the first half and failed to show any sustained stretches of good offense, an occasional problem for the team during the group stage.
The Americans have time to clean it up, with three days off before playing their first elimination game.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each scored 14 points for the U.S. team and Stephen Curry had 13.
Marouan Kechrid scored 15 points for Tunisia, which went 0-5 in its first appearance in the world championship.
U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski played his starters the entire first quarter, which ended with the Americans up 19-13. The reserves went the whole second, and though they pushed the lead into double digits, Tunisia was within two in the final minute before the Americans got the final two baskets for a 39-33 lead.
Clearly taking advantage of the Americans’ disinterest, Tunisia hustled to keep possessions alive, even ripping a couple of balls right out of U.S. players’ hands. But those extra possessions usually ended in missed shots, as Tunisia hit 28 percent after entering the game at 35.8 percent for the tournament, second-worst in the 24-team field.
The Americans finally broke it open midway through the third quarter. An 8-2 burst turned an eight-point lead into a 55-41 advantage. Gordon and Curry made consecutive 3-pointers in an 8-0 spurt that extended it to 63-44 in the final minute of the period.
Macram Ben Romdhane finished with 11 points for Tunisia.
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