Team USA finished preliminary play 5-0, topping France 100-97, but Paul George's frustration following their close win over Serbia still resonates. George felt the team was relying too much on their talent to beat teams, and there was no adjustment in that front to suggest they learned from the previous two games. George was moved back to the bench with Klay Thompson moving back into the starting lineup.
It didn't work well for Team USA in the early minutes, with France leading late in the first quarter as the second unit entered. The second unit helped push the United States into the lead, taking a double figure lead when the starters returned, and almost as if clockwork, saw the lead diminish into single digits. Klay Thompson caught fire in the third quarter as part of his game high 30 points (hitting five of his seven in the quarter).
The poor defensive effort by the starters kept the game from being blown wide open in that stretch and France used that opportunity to climb back in the game in the fourth. Team USA managed to keep France at arm's length behind Carmelo Anthony threes, but the defensive issues persisted even as the game wound down and France closed the gap to three as the buzzer sounded.
Thompson's hot second half limited Paul George's second half minutes, with him finishing with six points in just 14 minutes of action. DeMar DeRozan led the bench with nine points, but in the first half in particular, there was a sharp uptick in overall effort with George, DeRozan, and Jimmy Butler in the game. That only goes to illustrate how poorly the starters have played on the defensive end with backdoor cuts a common sight.
Even Thompson's lackadaisical demeanor following the win only seemed to illustrate the concerns George expressed after their win over Serbia. With an entire unit only committed to playing isolation heavy on offense and a bench unit that doesn't have an overwhelming presence or enough time on the floor to make up for the tendencies of the starters, the reality of the 2016 United States men's basketball team is becoming clearer. By the way, Tony Parker didn't even play today for France due to rest.
Team USA will now enter the knockout portion of the Olympic schedule, which starts Wednesday. The Americans don't know who they'll be playing yet in the Quarterfinals, but it won't be a team to the level of Venezuela or China.