Team USA vs Dominican Republic: Game Grades, Analysis for FIBA World Cup Matchup

Luke Petkac@@LukePetkacFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2014

Rudy Gay helped lead Team USA past the Dominican Republic.
Rudy Gay helped lead Team USA past the Dominican Republic.Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

The Dominican Republic pushed Team USA for much of the first half, but ultimately, the United States was too talented, busting the game open in the final 20 minutes en route to a 106-71 victory.

Despite the lopsided margin of victory, this wasn't a truly encouraging game, as Team USA didn't move the ball well and played sloppy (at best) defense in the first half. Still, it clinched Group C with the win and remains the team to beat in the tournament.


Team USA Grades

DeMarcus Cousins: B+

Anthony Davis: A-

Kenneth Faried: A

Rudy Gay: B+


DeMarcus Cousins: B+

Cousins' size and strength inside have been major weapons.
Cousins' size and strength inside have been major weapons.Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

The Dominican Republic could not compete with DeMarcus Cousins' sheer size (6'11", 270 lbs), and he bullied the team down low every time he touched the ball.

Cousins finished with 13 points and five rebounds (chipping in a crazy seven steals for good measure), but he could have easily put up bigger numbers had he been given more minutes. Since Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis are both playing out-of-their-minds well, Cousins hasn't had the chance to see all that much floor time, but he's been excellent.

Eventually (and by eventually, I mean “against Spain”), Cousins' size could be invaluable for Team USA, and his play has been nothing but encouraging.


Anthony Davis: A-

Anthony Davis wasn't at his best offensively in this one, goodness that defense.

It's almost unfair that FIBA rules allow Davis to lurk around the basket. He was a shot-blocking menace, racking up five rejections and altering several more shots. The Dominican Republic made a point to attack the rim early, and if not for Davis, it might have worked—the team was victimized around the basket when he wasn't out there.

The United States eventually settled down on the defensive end and turned the game into a laugher. But if not for Davis, the team might not have even taken a lead into the second half.


Kenneth Faried: A

What more is there to say about the Manimal?
What more is there to say about the Manimal?Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

Maybe this is an overreaction, but it's starting to feel more and more like Kenneth Faried has been Team USA's best player thus far in the tournament. At the very least, he's splitting the honor with Davis.

Like every other squad the United States has faced thus far, the Dominican Republic couldn't handle Faried's unique combination of athleticism, size (6'8", 228 lbs) and sheer energy. He amassed 16 points and six rebounds, doing so in typically Faried-y ways—tip-slams, easy buckets after offensive rebounds and smart rolls to the basket. 

Kenneth Faried putback dunk vs DR

— gifdsports (@gifdsports) September 3, 2014 

Faried was limited by foul trouble, but even so, he put his stamp on this game.


Rudy Gay: B+

If Rudy Gay played this kind of basketball in the NBA, he would be a legitimate All-Star.

Gay looked nothing like his NBA self today, and really, he hasn't for most of the tournament. Gay took a few of his patented semicontested jumpers, but they came in the flow of the offense (instead of off 12-second isolations), and he spent most of the time attacking the basket. He even recorded five assists!

It's really refreshing to watch Gay move the ball and not settle for bricky mid-range jumpers offensively. It may not carry over to the NBA, so it's well worth appreciating now.

#USABMNT F @rudygay22 pounds it in at @FIBA #Spain2014.

— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) September 3, 2014


Rest of Team: B-

This grade looked pretty ugly early, but the team eventually stepped up and ran away with the game.

It was nice seeing DeMar DeRozan get some real burn, and he was effective when he was out there. He did try to force the action at times, but he also played tough defense and got into transition a ton.

The one truly troubling thing was Stephen Curry's play. Curry only ended up with one turnover, but he was really loose with the ball, gunning for several alley-oops and run-out attempts that just weren't there.

It didn't cost the team today. The Dominican Republic didn't have the talent to make it pay, and the United States ended up with most loose balls anyway. But that kind of sloppiness could be trouble against the tournament's best teams, and Curry will need to work on the issue as play progresses.

Derrick Rose also looked a bit out of it offensively, though the real news is that he appears to be fine after taking a scary fall in the second quarter.


An upbeat Derrick Rose tells my colleague @BobHoltzmanESPN after game that he merely slipped on second-quarter layup. "I'm good," Rose says

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) September 3, 2014



Dominican Republic Grades

Manuel Fortuna: D

Victor Liz: B+

Edgar Sosa: B

Rest of Team: B


Manuel Fortuna: D

Manuel Fortuna's performance wasn't all bad. He did connect on both of his three-pointers, and he played pesky defense on a stable of very good United States guards.

But Fortuna also turned the ball over six times, and many of those were live ball giveaways that led to easy baskets for Team USA. The game didn't really break open until the U.S. was able to get out and run, and Fortuna didn't help his team at all in that regard.


Victor Liz: B+

Victor Liz was perhaps the Dominican Republic's best shot creator on the day, and he was the one guy on the team who was really able to hurt the United States in the paint. The Dominican Republic were only outscored by four points when Liz was on the floor—by far the best plus/minus of anyone on the squad, per

To be fair, a lot of Liz's damage came when the game was already out of hand, but even so, he was the biggest bright spot on the day.


Edgar Sosa: B

If Liz was the Dominican's best guard, Edgar Sosa was certainly a close second. Sosa's numbers (4-9 from the floor for nine points) aren't all that impressive, but he was fearless taking it to the basket, and he had several nice finishes at the rim.

Sosa's a young player (26 years old), and a performance like that against the tournament favorite has to make Dominican fans happy.


Rest of Team: B

The Dominican Republic fought the U.S. every step of the way.
The Dominican Republic fought the U.S. every step of the way.Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

This is a high grade for a squad that was handed a 35-point loss, but frankly, I think the Dominican Republic deserves it. The team was missing its best two players in Al Horford and Francisco Garcia, and yet it still gave the United States a heck of a fight in the first half by way of some stingy half-court defense.

That defense didn't last obviously, but it wasn't from lack of effort, and the United States had to work for the win every step of the way.


Coming Up Next

Team USA's next game comes against Ukraine on Thursday, Sept. 4. The game will tip off at 11:30 a.m. ET. The Dominican Republic will face off against Turkey, also on Thursday, Sept. 4. That game will tip off at 3:30 p.m. ET.