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    Roundup: United States flexes muscles in win over New Zealand

    Kenneth Faried, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds, throws down a dunk against overmatched New Zealand. EPA/LUIS TEJIDO
    Luis Tejido/EPA
    Kenneth Faried, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds, throws down a dunk against overmatched New Zealand.

    American players paused from their warmups to stand and face their New Zealand opponents as they performed the haka, their traditional war dance challenge.

    The US response wasn’t nearly as interesting. Just pound the ball inside and outmuscle an overmatched opponent.

    Anthony Davis had 21 points and nine rebounds, Kenneth Faried added 15 and 11 boards, and the Americans remained unbeaten at the Basketball World Cup by beating winless New Zealand, 98-71, on Tuesday in Bilbao, Spain.


    James Harden scored 13 points for the Americans, who won their 57th straight game and will play two more games in Bilbao before moving on to Barcelona for the round of 16. They face the Dominican Republic on Wednesday before wrapping up Group C play on Thursday against Ukraine.

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    ‘‘It was a good, solid performance,’’ coach Mike Krzyzewski said. ‘‘I thought the intensity was excellent.’’

    Two nights after having to rally from a halftime deficit for a 98-77 victory over Turkey, the US led this one wire to wire.

    BJ Anthony scored 11 points for New Zealand (0-3).

    ‘‘It was pretty awesome getting to play against these guys. These are guys that we watch on TV all the time,’’ veteran forward Casey Frank said. ‘‘To be able to get out there on the court against them and have a little bit of success offensively, obviously the result didn’t go our way, was pretty awesome.’’


    The Tall Blacks’ best work was before the game with their haka. Krzyzewski said US players were aware it would be part of the pregame and they lined up to face midcourt as the New Zealand players got into their formation.

    ‘‘We actually were going to shake hands with them afterwards because we knew that that was a really neat thing to do and it’s part of their tradition, and we admire that,’’ Krzyzewski said.

    Fans enjoyed it, then were largely quiet throughout the first half as the bigger US team imposed its will, not needing the kind of highlight plays fans expect of the NBA stars.

    There was no shortage of energy from Faried, the Denver Nuggets forward who seems intent on raising his profile as a largely overlooked player in the league.

    Faried came into the game shooting 14 of 17 in the tournament and then made all five shots in the first half while also grabbing six rebounds. He finished 7 of 9 from the field and is shooting 81 percent. Krzyzewski calls him the Americans’ ‘‘biggest and best surprise.’’


    ‘‘I’m just playing out there,’’ Faried said. ‘‘I’m just having fun. I’m just playing my game, having fun, enjoying life.’’

    He was just as active on defense, getting called for a third-quarter goaltend on a shot he blocked with such force that it landed behind the New Zealand bench.

    Stephen Curry finished with 12 points for the US, finally getting his shot to fall after going just 4 of 17 through the first two games. Golden State Warriors backcourt mate Klay Thompson also scored 12 and Kyrie Irving had 10.

    It was 27-20 after one quarter and the Americans were ahead by 9 in the second before a 12-0 run made it 50-29 with 4:14 left. The Americans got into transition during that flurry, but were often content in the first half to dump it inside, taking advantage of Davis and Faried’s muscle in the middle.

    Harden said the Americans, who won their 57th straight game, are happy to ride their big men, rather than the recent LeBron James-Carmelo Anthony-Kevin Durant squads that made wing scorers like himself the feature.

    ‘‘We’ve got 12 guys that can score the basketball at any given moment,’’ Harden said, ‘‘and tonight and every other night the focus is defense, and whoever scores the basketball, it’s USA points.’’

    Harden had a couple of baskets early in the third quarter — he and Davis both throwing down impressive dunks — and the Americans kept building the lead en route to their 57th straight victory.

    Derrick Rose started for Irving in the second half, Krzyzewski saying he wanted to get the former NBA MVP more minutes with the starters as he returns from nearly two seasons out with knee operations. Rose shot just 1 of 6 but Krzyzewski praised his performance.

    Ukraine 64, Turkey 58 — Olexandr Mishula netted 19 points off the bench, which outscored the starters, 40-24, as Ukraine took over second place in Group C with a win in Bilbao.

    Dominican Republic 74, Finland 68 — Eloy Vargas’s 18 points and 13 rebounds helped the Dominican Republic earn its second win in Bilbao in Group C play. Petteri Koponen had 23 points and nine assists for Finland.

    Slovenia 89, South Korea 72 — Goran Dragic led all five starters in double figures with 22 points as Slovenia remained undefeated in Group D with a win over winless South Korea in Las Palmas.

    Australia 82, Lithuania 75 — Australia jumped out to a 47-28 lead at the half and held off a spirited charge to defeat Lithuania in a Group D contest in Las Palmas.

    Mexico 79, Angola 55 — Hector Hernandez had 24 points, Gustavo Ayon added 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Mexico earned its first win in Group D play with a rout in Las Palmas.