BARCELONA (AP)— Klay Thompson scored 20 points and James Harden had 12 of his 14 in the third quarter after a scoreless first half, helping the U.S. turn a close game into a 119-76 rout of Slovenia on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Basketball World Cup.
Kenneth Faried also had 14 for the Americans, who will play Lithuania on Thursday in Barcelona for a spot in Sunday’s gold-medal game in Madrid. Lithuania beat Turkey 73-61 earlier Tuesday.
Derrick Rose finished with 12 points after coming into the game shooting 8 for 37 in the World Cup.
Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns lead Slovenia with 13 points.
The Americans led by only five points early in the third quarter before tearing off a 27-10 run. Harden and Stephen Curry finally got going after the All-Stars combined to miss all 12 shots in the first half.
That made it 76-54 with about two minutes left in the period, and the game turned altogether lopsided after the Americans scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to lead 96-64.
So the scoreboard ended up looking much like the Americans’ 101-71 exhibition rout the week the tournament opened, when they rode huge advantages in points in the paint and at the free throw line.
But it didn’t look that way for a while for a U.S. team that had been mostly unchallenged in the tournament while beating opponents by 31.5 points a game.
The Americans shot poorly at the start, but that just gave them more opportunities to pad their rebound totals. They missed 21 shots in the first quarter but grabbed 14 offensive boards and scored 15 second-chance points, though their lead was only 29-22 after one.
The U.S. lead grew to 12 in the second quarter, but the Americans managed only a 3-pointer by Rudy Gay over the final 2 1/2 minutes, and Zoran Dragic’s 3-pointer with 36 seconds remaining cut it to 49-42 at the break.
Harden was 0 for 8 in the half while Curry missed all four of his shots while being limited to eight minutes of playing time because of foul trouble.
That gave Rose extra time to get his shot going after struggling badly in the tournament, his first action after missing most of the last two seasons following a pair of knee operations.
The tenseness of the first half and the feistiness of the Slovenians seemed to fire up the Americans, who celebrated so wildly after a couple of their dunks that coach Mike Krzyzewski had to back them up off the floor back toward the bench.
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