LOS ANGELES—At the Staples Center for the second game of the Pre-Olympic tour for the United States Men’s National Basketball team, DeAndre Jordan has quickly emerged as one of Team USA’s biggest stars so far. The Los Angeles Clippers big man set the tone for the United States early as they clobbered China, 106-57 on Sunday night.
This is after Friday night’s dismantling of the Argentinian National Team, and Team USA is right on course for a gold medal in Rio. Anything less for this team would be a disappointment. As for the man of the night- DJ as the locals call him- is starting to get not only the national, but worldwide recognition he has deserved. The team will improve as it will see much better competition from the likes of Spain, Lithuania and France when they play in Brazil.
The group “A” of which the USA is a part of is not considered a difficult group, however, in the quarterfinals and semi’s anything can happen in one game. That is why defense is considered so important; it never takes a day off. Shooting can come or go, a team can go hot or cold from the perimeter, but defending is consistent and mostly a matter of desire of which this group has an abundance of.
Jordan returned to his stomping grounds where he was showered with cheers and praise from the sold-out Staples crowd. On the opening tip, he rejected a shot and raced down the floor, jumped and appeared to touch the roof, (only slightly exaggerating), as he slammed home an alley oop pass. In true L.A fashion, Kevin Durant was booed loudly by the pro-Laker and Clipper crowd, but by the time his fourth three pointer swished through the net, the crowd was cheering loudly for the newest Golden State Warrior.
In their two games, Team USA appears to already have jelled, and appears most certainly the team to beat at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Durant finished with 19 points, but the night clearly belonged to Jordan, who said after the game that, “we have only been together a week, but it seems like years.”
Tuesday night, the two-game series with China concludes at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. This game has extra significance and is the official coming out party for Kevin Durant, who was just signed by DUB Nation three weeks ago and is sure to receive a warm welcome. In addition, the starting five will include Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and the aforementioned Durant. The game will air at 7:00 PT, on NBA TV.