Sports

USA Starts 2-0 At World Championship

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Kevin Durant

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP) Kevin Durant’s shooting and Kevin Love’s strength sent the United States to a 2-0 start in the world championship.

Durant scored 22 points, Love added 10 points and 11 rebounds off the bench, and the Americans beat Slovenia 99-77 on Sunday in an opening-round game.

Playing a rare early game, the U.S. players stalled after a quick start. But Durant came through with a basket whenever they needed it, and Love always seemed to be around the ball – even when a Slovenian player tried holding his arm so he couldn’t get it.

Rudy Gay finished with 16 points for the Americans (2-0), while Russell Westbrook and Andre Iguodala each had 11. Durant shot 8 of 13 before sitting out the fourth quarter.

Bostjan Nachbar scored 13 points for Slovenia (1-1), which had an enormous edge in the stands but not enough to match the Americans on the court.

Slovenian fans, many dressed in green shirts, lined the streets outside the arena some 90 minutes before tipoff. They filled large areas throughout the arena, and stood and roared when the Slovenians came out for pregame warmups.

There wasn’t as much for them to cheer about once the game started.

Durant ripped the ball away on Slovenia’s opening possession and raced in for a dunk about 20 seconds into the game. Nachbar answered with a basket, but the Americans ran off 10 straight points, with Durant nailing a 3-pointer before throwing down another dunk for a 12-2 lead.

The Americans made eight of their first 11 shots from the field and led 23-11 after one quarter, then suddenly went cold in the second.

They didn’t make a field goal for the first 6 1/2 minutes of the period, allowing Slovenia to crawl within 28-23 on Sani Becirovic’s free throws with 3:36 to go. Westbrook snapped the U.S. out of that drought with a basket, then fed Love for another to start an 8-0 spurt that made it 36-23.

Love later flexed his muscle for another basket, grabbing an offensive rebound with one arm while Uros Slokar was holding the other, and putting it back in while being fouled.

The Americans led by 14 points at halftime before putting it away midway through the third quarter. Lamar Odom and Derrick Rose made consecutive 3-pointers, Iguodala had a steal and dunk, and Durant added a basket and 3-pointer for a 59-32 bulge with 4 1/2 minutes remaining.

The Slovenians got little from Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic, who had 16 points in their opening victory over Tunisia. He finished with seven points on 2-of-8 shooting.

The Americans face Brazil on Monday night, then have an off day before their final two games in group play.

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