SALT LAKE CITY — How do you respond after escaping against a nailbiter against Turkey? A 53-point win seems like a good start.
On Thursday, Team USA smashed Japan, 98-45, to finish the first round of group play undefeated in the World Cup. And Donovan Mitchell’s final stat line was pretty eye-popping with a game-high plus/minus of plus-51.
The Jazz’s young star had 10 points, six assists and three rebounds in a team-high for minutes played (22:46). Those minutes might have had more to do with his plus/minus stat than anything. Japan was just no match for the United States — no matter which players were on the court.
Mitchell was more efficient Thursday than his last outing against Turkey. Against Japan, Mitchell was 4-of-8 from the field, including 2-of-5 from the 3-point line. His eight field goal attempts were telling, too.
Mitchell seemed more interested in making the pass than scoring on Thursday. His six assists were second on the team and his eight field-goal attempts were tied for fourth with Khris Middleton and Derrick White.
He took the plays that were there for him and made plays for others. It wasn’t flashy, but it was effective.
Mitchell’s group state averages: 11.7 points, 4.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds
Next game: Saturday vs. Greece
Australia 87, Lithuania 82
Joe Ingles didn’t score a point until there was just 8.6 seconds left in the game — two free throws that made it a two-possession game — but don’t take that to mean he didn’t have an impact on Australia’s win Thursday.
Ingles was the initiator on offense and finished with a game-high eight assists. That’s been the role that Ingles has played for the Boomers this tournament and he played it well. In fact, Ingles finished the first round of group play tied for the most assists in the entire tournament. In three games, Ingles had 26 assists (the same number as Germany’s Dennis Schroeder).
And all that passing helped Australia to a historic feat. For the first time ever, the Boomers won their opening three games of a World Cup.
Ingles’ group stage averages: 10.7 points, 8.7 assists, 6.7 rebounds,
Next game: Saturday vs. Dominican Republic
France 90, Dominican Republic 56
France and the Dominican Republic met Thursday in a battle for Group G. It didn’t end up being much of a battle.
Rudy Gobert led the way with 13 points and eight rebounds for Les Bleus as they finished a perfect 3-0 in the first round. The Jazz big man didn’t have to play a lot to do it, either. Gobert played under 20 minutes Thursday due to France building a large lead early.
Gobert was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and was 3-of-4 from the free-throw line. That strong free throw percentage continued a tourney long trend; in three games, Gobert shot 80% from the charity stripe on 15 attempts.
After the first three games of the tournament, Gobert is first in blocks (2.7 per game) and second in field goal percentage (72.2%).
Gobert’s group stage averages: 12.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.7 blocks
Next game: Saturday vs. Lithuania