Irving, Team USA cruise to easy victory over Dominican Republic

Irving, Team USA cruise to easy victory over Dominican Republic
August 20, 2014, 8:15 pm
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Mark Strotman

After battling with an experienced Brazil team with plenty of NBA frontcourt talent last week, Team USA faced a much easier test Wednesday night, defeating the Dominican Republic, 102-65, in front of 16,080 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kyrie Irving, starting in place of Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, scored 12 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting performance, James Harden added 12 more and four Americans scored in double-figures off the bench, led by a team-high 13 points from Rudy Gay and Andre Drummond.

Harden and Thompson helped paced Team USA in the first half with 10 points apiece, while the DR's only NBA player, Francisco Garcia, added nine points as USA jumped out to a 53-31 halftime lead.

The second half belonged to the bench, as Drummond, Gay and DeRozan -- three players considered to be on the bubble for the final cuts -- went to work with an array of jumpers, dunks and fast break points that the Dominican Republic couldn't contain. DeRozan led Team USA with six assists in a team-high 23 minutes, while Drummond grabbed four offensive rebounds (five total) and added a block and steal in 16 minutes.

Team USA shot 58 percent from the field, including 44 percent on threes, while forcing the Dominican Republic into 16 turnovers.

[RELATED: Derrick Rose sits out Wednesday's Team USA exhibition]

Wednesday also marked the return of DeMarcus Cousins, who had an injury scare in last week's practice in Chicago and was held out of the exhibition against Brazil at the United Center. Cousins came off the bench, played 16 minutes, made his only shot attempt and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

USA Basketball was without Derrick Rose, who had missed the first two days of practice in New York and received an extra day of rest on Wednesday; it also allowed the USA coaching staff to get a look at other guards before cutting the roster down later this week. Rose is expected to practice Thursday and play in USA's game Friday against Puerto Rico, the team's final tune-up before pool play begins in Spain.

That allowed additional playing time for Damian Lillard, who played 24 minutes and scored seven points to go with three rebounds and three assists. He also accounted for four of Team USA's 12 turnovers.

Krzyzewski also said he and director Jerry Colangelo will not cut the roster down to 12 until Friday at the earliest. There are still three cuts that must be made.