Aug 1, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; USA Team Blue center Anthony Davis (42) tips the ball away from Team White center DeMarcus Cousins (36) at the start of the USA Basketball Showcase at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis Leads Team USA Over Brazil 95-78

Saturday night’s Team USA vs. Brazil exhibition game was supposed to be a nice warm up for the two squads as they prepare for the upcoming FIBA World Cup in Spain. For the US it was a way to figure out how they would cope with the departure of Kevin Durant and Paul George while letting fans in Chicago see their hometown stars in Anthony Davis and Derrick Rose.

Then Anthony Davis decided to be a bully.

Davis, who finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, led the Americans to a 95-78 victory sparked by a run in the fourth quarter that put the game out of the reach by diving into the stands for a ball, blocking a shot and detonating on poor Tiago Splitter off a lob from Kyrie Irving.

It was the type of game that Pelicans fans dream of when they imagine Davis’s future as he was the best player on the floor almost the entire night, making the right rotations on defense and staying within himself on offense, knocking down a few jumpers, finishing out of the pick-and-roll and tipping in offensive rebounds in his first game in Chicago since the McDonald’s High School All-American game.

Some other Davis related thoughts:

  • I mentioned it on the site when Durant withdrew but Davis is probably the most important player left on the Team USA roster. No big man in the group has the offensive versatility that Davis has or the potential to impact a game on defense as much as he can. Tonight it showed as Team USA struggled a bit when Davis left the floor and made their big runs when Davis fueled things.
  • Seriously, look at those vines. How many players in the NBA can do all of that in one game? It was terrific.
  • Davis mentioned after the game how he is comfortable in a leadership role and it seemed that way tonight. At one point Kenneth Faried looked a bit lost on defense (which is 90 percent of Kenneth Faried on defense) and Davis barked at him where he needed to go. It sounded as if Davis was a bit angry but it is the kind of things he needs to do.
  • Davis struggled a bit shooting in the first half and it caused him to hesitate and travel once but he found ways to be effective before knocking down jumpers late. He will make a few FIBA threes in this tournament and be completely unguardable.
  • Speaking of Faried, Davis and Faried won’t really work. Faried just blows too many rotations on defense and clogs up the floor for Davis on offense. Things worked much smoother with Rudy Gay in the game and I would guess we see that to start and finish a lot of the World Cup games.
  • There is no rim protection behind Davis so if he gets in foul trouble Team USA could be in trouble. Brazil got a ton inside when Davis left the game which can’t make Coach K happy with Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol looming in the title game.
  • Davis limped off the floor with a little over 4 minutes left in the game but he seemed fine after the final buzzer so there doesn’t seem to be anything to worry about. But between the dive into the stands and the limp Pelicans fans hearts probably stopped a few times tonight.
  • That was a massive amount of fun.

Team USA returns to play on Wednesday for another exhibition against the Dominican Republic but not before a special practice at West Point for the US armed forces. That practice will be broadcast live on ESPN on Monday at 1 pm CT for those interested in watching. Otherwise the game against the Dominican Republic will be broadcast on Wednesday night at 7 pm CT on NBATV.

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