Coming into Thursday’s game, San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills was struggling from behind the arc, as he had only made 1-of-14 three pointers in his first two Olympic games.
Mills found his shooting touch Thursday as he led Australia to a 81-61 victory over China by shooting 4-of-8 from 3-point range. David Andersen (17 points) and Joe Ingles (13 points) also helped guide Australia to victory, but it was Australia’s defense that ultimately earned them their win.
Shipeng Wang had a magnificent shooting game for China by knocking down 7-of-10 three pointers for 21 points, while Yi Jianlian also supplied 13 points, but in the end, the Aussies defense limited the Chinese from scoring.
Here’s the rundown.
First quarter: Australia (AUS) 21, China (CHN) 22
Player of the quarter (AUS): Mills – Mills got himself going early by scoring two easy layups in transition by getting ahead of the defense. Some would call it “snow-birding”; we’ll call it Mills using his speed effectively. Mills also knocked down a 3-pointer as he scored nine points in the first quarter.
Player of the quarter (CHN): Wang – Wang was on fire in the first quarter as he connected on 4-of-4 3-pointers and kept China with the slim lead, as he scored 12 of their 22 points.
Second quarter: AUS 49, CHN 33
Player of the quarter (AUS): Ingles, Andersen, Australian defense – Australia locked down defensively in the second quarter as they held China to just 11 points in the quarter and forced the Chinese to turn the ball over 10 times in the half. Ingles and Andersen helped the Australians put up a 28-point quarter, as Andersen led all scorers with 15-points at half, while Ingles had nine points.
Player of the quarter (CHN): Jianlian – Jianlian used the free throw line to score in the quarter, as he had 10 points by halftime, six of those from the charity stripe.
Highlight (AUS): Early in the second, Matthew Dellavedova threw an alley-oop to Aron Baynes who finished the dunk with one hand.
Spurs spotlight: Mills continued to stay aggressive in the second, but as he continued to attack the paint, the referees weren’t giving him the foul calls. He made his second 3-pointer of the game late in the quarter from the corner to go into halftime with 12 points.
Third quarter: AUS 61, CHN 52
Player of the quarter (CHN): Wang, Chinese defense – Wang got hot again in the third quarter as he made three 3-pointers to get China within 10 points early. China’s team defense held the Australian’s to just 12 points in the third quarter.
Highlight (AUS): On a play in the pick-and-roll, Dellavedova fed Baynes another alley-oop dunk. Ingles also had a powerful two-handed dunk in the open court, as he held onto the rim after slamming the ball in.
Spurs spotlight: Mills scored an early layup by taking the ball coast to coast with his speed. As was the case with his whole team, Mills struggled to score on China in the third quarter.
Fourth quarter: AUS 81, CHN 61
Player of the quarter (AUS): Mills, Australian defense – Mills helped Australia hold off China by making two more 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. The Australian defense was once again impressive in the fourth as they held China to just nine points in the final quarter.
Highlight (AUS): Late in the fourth, Ingles threw an outlet pass to Brad Newley who finished in the open court with a two-handed dunk.
With the victory, the Australians earned their first win (1-2) in Group B pool play. They’ll face Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng and Great Britain next on Saturday.