After three testy quarters, Team USA used a big fourth quarter to pull away from Brazil in its first exhibition game of the summer.
Just more than a week after Kevin Durant announced he wouldn't take part in USA Basketball's World Cup appearance, the Americans found themselves tinkering during a 95-78 exhibition victory against Brazil. Coach Mike Krzyzewski's squad found the Brazilians to be a tough out in their first prep game of the summer, one that allowed point guard Derrick Rose to take the court in front of his Chicago fanbase.
After struggling through the first three quarters, USA opened the fourth leading by just five points, but put on a 10-0 run to find a bit of separation. Anthony Davis, who finished with 20 points, four blocks and seven rebounds, dove into the front row to save a loose ball and followed the hustle play with an alley-oop dunk that capped the spurt, giving USA a 15-point lead that was the biggest to that point.
Team USA initially appeared to have cleaned up a sloppy start to the contest. USA led 29-15 by the end of the first quarter thanks to 67 percent shooting, but the energy level dropped off to start to the second. Soon enough, Brazil had clipped 12 points off the USA lead to trail just 35-33.
There would be a little more separation after Rose took the ball the length of the court in 4.6 seconds to close the first half. His floater off the glass gave USA a 45-37 lead heading to the third quarter.
Rose's much-anticipated return to the court in Chicago was a positive one. His dunk attempt in the first quarter clanged off the rim as the crowd got ready to explode, but a few dazzling moves made it clear he is prepping to join Anthony Davis and James Harden as they fight to replace Durant and Paul George.
George, who broke his leg in USA's scrimmage, was honored Saturday by his teammates, who wore shirts that read "United We Stand" wrapped around his initials.
The Americans will likely take quite a bit away from their first friendly game.
DeMarcus Cousins' knee injury made Mason Plumlee the second center off the bench, and newly-added swingman Rudy Gay appears to still be getting acclimated. There's still a lot of work to do, but certainly the fitting storyline was Rose's start and finish in front of the Bulls-friendly crowd.