After a closely contested first quarter, Kenneth Faried helped the Americans (4-0), once again propelled by their big men, take the second and third quarters by a combined 26 points and defeat the Dominican Republic (2-2) 106-71 to advance to 4-0 and clinch the best record in Group C.
Faried scored a game-high 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go with six rebounds in 17 minutes played. His play has even inspired Chris Sheridan to call Faried the MVP of the World Cup thus far in a recent podcast.
Anthony Davis also had a standout game for the Americans, scoring 10 points, grabbing seven rebounds and swatting five shots. DeMarcus Cousins was sensational as well, hitting all five of his field goals, scoring 13 points, six steals and five rebounds.
As for the guards and wings, Stephen Curry excelled despite not having to shoulder the scoring load. Curry did hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight points, but he also had seven assists and six rebounds. DeMar DeRozan had 11 points and James Harden had a quiet 10 points for Team USA, who shot 56.4 percent to 39.4 percent for the Dominicans. The D.R. also committed 26 turnovers, 10 more than Team USA.
The Americans have outscored their opponents by a combined 142 points so far, making them the top overall seed going into Thursday’s tilt against the Ukraine.
Elsewhere In Group C
New Zealand (1-3) avoided elimination by defeating the Ukraine (2-2) 73-61 by holding Mike Fratello’s club to under 39 percent shooting. Former D-Leaguer Pooh Jeter scored 13 for Ukraine in the loss.
The Ukraine is still second place in the group despite being outscored by one point in the tournament, but limiting the damage on Thursday against Team USA is what will get them a more favorable opponent in the Round of 16.
In what turned out to be the match of the day, Turkish forward Cenk Akyol hit a 3-pointer with four seconds left to force overtime and Turkey (2-2) prevailed over Finland (1-3) 77-73 in overtime.
Omer Asik scored a game-high 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds for the Turks, who won with 38.9 percent shooting because they took 45 free throws (hitting 29 of them) compared to just 10 free throw attempts for the Finns, who are now in bad shape looking to the last day.
Finland, who were led by Petteri Koponen’s 17 points, has to beat New Zealand by a huge margin on Thursday and get help in order to reach the next round.
In a matchup of two teams with basically no chance to advance to the next round, Iran (1-3) got 24 points and six assists from Nikkhah Bahrami and 23 points and 15 rebounds from Hamed Haddadi to defeat Egypt (0-4) 88-73. The Iranians have a minus-57 point differential, so even if they defeat France on Thursday and get help, it would not be enough.
That leaves the other four teams in the group to play for seeding. Score a big win for Brazil (3-1), who clinched a spot in the next round by going on a 21-9 fourth quarter run and defeating Serbia (2-2) 81-73.
Marquinhos Viera led all scorers with 21 and Leandro Barbosa chipped in with 16. NBA bigs Anderson Varejao and Tiago Splitter contributed as well, with Varejao pulling down nine boards and Splitter scoring 10 and dishing out a game-high six assists.
Milos Teodosic led the Serbians with 14 points.
The Spaniards shot 50.8 percent and got 15 points from Pau Gasol, 14 from Juan Carlos Navarro, 10 points and eight rebounds from Serge Ibaka and 10 points from Sergio Llul.
Nicolas Batum led the French with 11 points and Evan Fournier chipped in nine, but France missed 20 of its 25 3-pointers and forced just eight Spanish turnovers.
Puerto Rico (1-3) kept itself alive in an de-factor elimination game by defeating the Philippines (0-4) 77-73 behind 30 points from JJ Barea.
Andray Blatche continued to excel for his adopted nation, scoring 25 points and hauling in 14 rebounds, but his team can’t get a win. Puerto Rico went 11-of-26 from three in the win.
Puerto Rico is very much alive because Senegal (2-2) laid an enormous egg against Argentina (3-1), shooting 32.7 percent in an 81-46 loss.
Argentina is now on to the next round after getting 22 points and 14 points from Luis Scola, 11 points from Walter Herrman and 10 from Pablo Prigioni.
Greece (4-0) went on a 20-9 second quarter run to knock off Croatia (2-2) 76-65.
Kostas Papanikolaou, whose rights are held by the Houston Rockets, led the Greeks with 14 points. Nets forward Bojan Bogdanovic led all scorers with 20, and Croatia just has to avoid a blowout loss on Thursday to Puerto Rico to move on.
Senegal is actually rooting for Croatia because they have a worse point differential than Puerto Rico heading into Senegal’s Thursday match against the Philippines.
Joe Ingles, an Australian wing who’s reportedly gotten interest from several NBA teams, missed the only shot he took and went scoreless in 32 minutes played. Dante Exum went scoreless in his six minutes of playing time as well.
Gustavo Ayon led the Mexicans with 11 points and nine rebounds and Nets guard Jorge Gutierrez had 10. Mexico is in the fourth and final Group D spot going into Thursday’s match against winless Korea.
Korea (0-4) actually led Lithuania (3-1) by two after the first quarter, but scored just four points in the third quarter in a 79-49 debacle.
Lithuania will advance after Rockets center Donatas Motiejunas scored 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting to go with seven rebounds and five assists.
Slovenia (4-0) remained undefeated with a fourth quarter comeback to beat Angola (1-3) 93-87 behind 14 points from Goran Dragic.
Angola trails Mexico by 14 points in differential going into its Thursday match against Australia.
Team USA plays the Ukraine on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. eastern on ESPN2.