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Durant leads Americans in Olympic opener

July 29, 2012 at 11:55 AM   |   Comments

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LONDON, July 29 (UPI) -- Kevin Durant led the way with 22 points Sunday and the United States basketball team opened its Olympic effort with a 98-71 whipping of France.

The Americans overcame a sluggish start to record an easy victory in the first of their five group games that will lead to next week's knockout round.

The top four teams in each of the six-team groups will make it to the quarterfinals, a feat that is a foregone conclusion for the United States as it makes a bid for its second straight gold medal.

After having to settle for a 22-21 lead at the end of one quarter, Team USA outscored the French by 15 in the second period and coasted from there.

The players and coaches each received a hug from first lady Michelle Obama as they left the court.

Kevin Love added 14 points and LeBron James had eight assists for the Americans. France was led by Ali Traore with 12 points and Tony Parker with 10.

The United States men's team will next be in action on Tuesday against Tunisia and then will meet Nigeria, Lithuania and Argentina to conclude Group A action. The quarterfinals will take place Aug. 8.

In another game from the Americans' group Sunday, Nigeria defeated Tunisia 60-56. Brazil downed Australia 75-71 in the first Group A game.

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