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U.S. answer George’s critique, finish 5-0 in Rio prelims

Paul George made it clear he was not happy with the lack of ball movement Team USA had in a narrow victory over Serbia on Friday.

“We just gotta start getting some movement,” George said after the game on NBCSN. “We’re relying on our natural talent so much. It’s so easy to guard us. Teams are just loading up and watching us play one-on-one.”

But George and his teammates had no problem swinging the rock against France on Sunday.

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USA got back to working together against France. photo| Getty Images

USA’s first bucket came in the first 25 seconds of the game, when Kyrie Irving pushed the ball up the court before finding DeMarcus Cousins for a monster slam.

The first quarter consisted of a series of ties and lead changes, as Nando De Colo and Thomas Heurtel handled the scoring for France early on.

Kevin Durant, who attempted just four shots against Serbia, started the game with nine quick points on 4-of-4 shooting. USA had 10 assists in the first quarter and headed into the second with a 30-24 lead.

The unselfish play continued for USA in the following quarter. Carmelo Anthony, who did not even attempt a field goal in the first,  did not take his first shot of the game until 6:37 left in the second.

France cut the deficit to four on a three-pointer from De Colo but USA stretched its lead to nine by halftime. De Colo had 14 points and 5 assists at the half. Both teams shot 19-of-34 from the field in the first half. The margin heading into the locker room was because the U.S. hit 14 foul shots, while France only hit six. The U.S. also hit three shots from behind the three-point line; France made just two.

Klay Thompson came into the game averaging only 2.8 points and was 3-of-16 from three-point range. But Thompson finally found his touch again on Sunday, especially in the third quarter. Thompson erupted in the quarter, hitting five three-pointers, as USA went into the fourth quarter up 81-69.

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Klay Thompson finally got out of his funk on Sunday. photo| Chicago Tribune

Led by a few key baskets from Joffrey Lauvergne and Mickael Gelabale, France made a run in the fourth and were able to make it 85-81 with just over five minutes left.

A couple of clutch three-pointers from Anthony in the final four minutes allowed USA to widen its lead to ten points. France went on a 7-0 run to end the game but USA came away with its second three-point victory in a row by a final score of 100-97.

Nicolas Batum had 14 points for France. De Colo and Heurtel had 18 points apiece. Heurtel also had a team-high nine assists in the loss. Lauvergne had 12 points off the bench.

George’s call for more ball movement from his USA teammates was answered. USA had 32 assists as a team, which was four more than France had. Irving had a hame-high 12 assists to go along with 10 points. Anthony had five assists and added 10 points.

Durant had 17 points and was perfect from the field, going 6-of-6. Thompson had a game-high 30 points and went 7-of-13 from three, tying Durant’s Olympic record for three-point attempts.

USA finishes the preliminary round of the 2016 Rio Olympics atop Group A with a record of 5-0. With the loss, France is in third place in Group A at 3-2. Australia, which beat France, is in second place.

The quarterfinals begin on Wednesday, Aug. 17. USA will face the No.4 seed in Group B, which will likely be Brazil or Croatia.

Information from CBS Sports was used in this report.

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