Star-studded US basketball team makes winning start

Monday, July 30, 2012    

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LONDON, England (AP) — Kevin Durant finished with 22 points as the United States powered home after a sluggish start in a 98-71 win over France yesterday on the opening day of the men's Olympic basketball tournament.

The US team, loaded with NBA stars and a heavy favourite to defend their title, struggled early and were leading by only one point at the end of the first quarter.

A 30-15 second quarter was the beginning of the end for France, which is led by the San Antonio guard Tony Parker and has five other NBA players, the most in any squad apart from the United States.

In the second half, the Americans produced enough alley-oop passes and dunks to draw oohs and aahs from the crowd and subdue the French.

Parker, playing with goggles to protect a surgically repaired left eye, scored 10 as France fell to 0-5 in Olympic competition against the United States. Ali Traore led France with 12 points.

Kevin Love scored 14 points, Kobe Bryant scored 10 and LeBron James added eight assists for the Americans.

The Americans' next opponent in Group A is Tunisia, who lost 60-56 to Nigeria in the tournament opener.

Al-Farouq Aminu scored 15 points to help Nigeria hold off a second-half rally by Tunisia.

In Group B, Leandro Barbosa scored 16 points in Brazil's 75-71 win over Australia.

Pau Gasol had 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead Spain past China 97-81, also in Group B. Spain were silver medallist at the Beijing Games four years ago and are the two-time European champion.

Yi Jianlian of the Washington Wizards had a double-double for China, scoring a game-high 30 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.

But China had no answer to the depth of Spain, who had four players scoring in double digits.

Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder added 17 points for Spain.

With the US leading 52-36 at halftime, Durant opened the second half with a three-pointer, Bryant dropped one from long range and after James dunked an alley-oop pass from Deron Williams, the Americans led 64-43 and put the game away.

After the game, the US players stopped to hug First Lady Michelle Obama, the First Cheerleader.



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