Venezuela fought valiantly, but it was only enough to keep them close for a quarter-and-a-half. After struggling to get going, Team USA eventually found its groove and followed up their 57-point rout of China with a 113-69 win over Venezuela. The Americans move to 2-0 against Group A in the 2016 Olympic Games.
DeAndre Jordan had 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds while Paul George had 20 points. Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony added 16 and 14 points, respectively. A matchup against 2-0 Australia looms on Wednesday in Rio. John Cox, who is a cousin of Kobe Bryant, had 19 points for Venezuela in the loss.
Durant scored the team's first seven points, but Team USA had a sloppy first quarter and a pesky Venezuelan team wouldn't fall over. They clawed their way into a dogfight against the Americans, taking a 14-13 lead at one point and ending the quarter tied at 18 against the best team in the world.
The blowout that seemed eminent took a while to get going -- the Americans had turned the ball over eight times and had only built up a four-point lead midway through the second quarter. Then the gong finally went off. Durant made two free throws to give the US a six-point lead -- its biggest of the game at that point -- then Anthony stuck a three, and the US never looked back. All told, a 24-4 run blew the game open and the US led 48-26 at the half.
Venezuela wouldn't let the US completely run away with it, losing the third quarter by only two points, but Team USA blew it open again and coasted to an easy win in the fourth. They've won both games by an average of 50.5 points.
Here are two things we learned:
A slow start and sloppy play won't go over so well against Australia
The Venezuelans did what they could, but no matter what happened they weren't going to beat this US team. Simply put, they don't have the talent to match up with the US -- and it's not even close. Australia, on the other hand, might actually make Team USA sweat if the US squad plays like they did through the first 15 minutes on Monday. With Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut, Australia does have some talent -- even if it's not enough to match up with the star-studded cast of Team USA -- and they have the ability to put the US into a serious hole. The Americans will likely blow out the Australians, too, but they will be playing catch-up if they start as slowly as they did against Venezuela.
DeAndre Jordan can make up for a lot of mistakes
Jordan was a monster down low against Venezuela, taking over in the second quarter as the Americans made their run to blow the game wide open. He had seven points and six rebounds in the first half, and was an unstoppable force in the paint. He played cleanup on the glass with two put-back dunks and controlled the lane defensively whenever Venezuela tried to penetrate.
DeMarcus Cousins started the game and may be more of an all-around player than Jordan, but Jordan's athleticism is the perfect fit for this team. Similarly to his play with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin on the Clippers, Jordan is at his best when he's roaming and playing free -- and he's able to do exactly that in international play. Team USA is taking advantage of the "throw wherever you want as long as it's close to the rim" quality of Jordan's game.
While Durant, Kyrie Irving and Anthony (who passed Michael Jordan on the Team USA all-time scoring list) may be the big-ticket names, Jordan is a cog that's essential if Team USA is going to continue to blow away the competition.