The United States opened play at the FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup with a 99-72 victory over New Zealand.
Team USA got off to a slow start, falling behind by 10 points in the first quarter after producing twice as many turnovers (4) as baskets made over its first 11 possessions. The Kiwis pressured the ball aggressively from the opening tip, forcing the US to rely on its bench to make a comeback.
Austin Reaves and Tyrese Haliburton started the comeback, with Reaves providing 10 points, five assists, and a steal all in the first half. Team USA closed the opening period on a 15-4 run to enter the second quarter up 19-18.
Anthony Edwards got going, scoring eight of his 14 points in the second, as the United States began to pull away from the overmatched New Zealanders.
Team USA came out of the locker room holding on to a nine-point halftime advantage, but put together its best offensive quarter of the game in the third; doubling the lead as the fourth quarter began.
After scoring 31 points in the third quarter, the US finished off the Kiwis by squeezing them defensively. New Zealand scored only 14 points in the final 10 minutes, finishing the game shooting below 37 percent from the floor.
Team USA made 35 of its 59 field goal attempts, utilizing its quickness to attack inside while shooting a solid 8-of-18 from beyond the arc. The United States outscored New Zealand by 12 at the free throw line.
Paulo Banchero, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, led all scorers with 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting.
Team USA got 59 points from its bench, with Reaves (12) and Halliburton (10) also reaching double figures.
Among the starters, Edwards (14), Jaren Jackson Jr. (12), and Jalen Brunson (10) scored at least 10 points.
Brandon Ingram was 1-for-4 shooting, and ended the game with two points, two rebounds, three assists, one steal, and two turnovers. He has not looked comfortable offensively since joining the national team.
He averaged 7.8 points per game during exhibition play on 42% shooting.
New Zealand was led by 15 points from Reuben Te Rangi.
The United States faces Greece, without Giannis Antetokounmpo, on Monday.
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