Team USA broke open up a close game in the middle of the first quarter and cruised to a 129-92 victory over Serbia in the gold medal game of the 2014 FIBA World Cup on Sept. 14. The gold medal is the U.S.’s second straight and fifth overall in FIBA’s flagship event.
MVP: Kyrie Irving. Irving was fantastic, particularly during the last half of the first period.
With the score tied at 15-15 at the 4:51 mark, Irving ignited a 20-6 USA run by scoring seven straight points – a two-point jumper and a triple from the top of the arc, followed by a layup. He tallied 13 of his 15 first quarter points during the spurt. Irving was 6-of-7 from the floor during the first stanza, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.
Irving, who came into the game averaging just over 10 points and 3.5 assists , scored a FIBA personal-best 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field, including a perfect 6-of-6 from beyond the arc. He also doled out four assists and recorded a blocked shot.
The difference: Three-point shooting. Both the U.S. and Serbia came into the game with an offense that ranked in the top-four in scoring, shooting percentage and three-point shooting.
The U.S. topped the 24-team event by averaging 101.5 points a game, which was 18.5 points more than the second-highest scoring team (Spain) and field goal percentage (51.7) The Americans were fourth in three-point shooting (38.5 percent). On the other hand, Serbia was fourth in scoring (81.4), second in field goal percentage (50.1) and second in three-point percentage (39.9). So, one would figure it would be a high –scoring affair. And it was.
The U.S. outscored Serbia 45-15 from beyond the arc as they connected on 15-of-30 shots from long-range. As stated previously, Irving went 6-of-6 from behind the arc, while James Harden made 3-of-5. Stephen Curry (2-of-7), Klay Thompson (2-of-5), Rudy Gay (1-of-3) and DeMar DeRozan (1-of-1) also hit triples of their own.
Serbia was just 5-of- 25 from long range. Nemanja Bjelic and Nikola Kalnic drained two three-pointers, while Milos Teodosic and Bogdan Bogdanovic each made one triple.
The U.S showed just how powerful they are, as they whitewashed the overwhelmed Serbs to join Yugoslavia and Brazil as the only teams to win consecutive World Championship events. Irving led the way for the U.S. with his 26 points, while just missing three shots from the field (10-of-13).
Harden also had a great night as he poured in 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting, and had two assists. Joining Irving and Harden in double-figures were Thompson (12), Kenneth Faried (12), DeMarcus Cousins (11), Gay (11), Curry (10) and DeMAr DeRozen (10). Derrick Rose, who has struggled all tournament, is the only American who did not score.
The U.S. got off to another slow start, trailing 15-7 early in the first period. They then went on a 8-0 spurt to tie the game on two free throws by Cousins at the 4:51 mark. That’s when Irving took over.
Irving scored seven straight points and the U.S. closed the quarter on a 20-6 run to lead 35-21 after the first stanza. Harden added nine points in the quarter as the U.S. shot 65 percent from the field (13-of-20).
The U.S. extended its lead to 53-30 with 3:54 left to go in the half. Irving (18) and Harden (17) combined to score 35 points in the half as the U.S. led 67-41 at the break. The red, white and blue shot 69 percent (11-of-16) from beyond the arc and 59 percent overall in the first 20 minutes of action. Serbia converted 14-of-29 shots from the field (48 percent), but just 3-of-11 from long distance.
The U.S. continued to push the pace in the third quarter, outscoring their opponent 38-26 before calling off the dogs. With the victory, the U.S. has now won 63 consecutive games under Mike Krzyzewski.
Kalnic and Bjelic led Serbia with 18 points apiece. Bogdanovic, who was just 5-of-17 from the field, had 15 points and Teodosic added 10 points and seven dimes. Miroslav Raduljica got into foul trouble, as did several U.S. big men, finishing with nine points and three caroms.