Inside and out, Tina Thompson couldn't miss for US
BEIJING (AP) In the lane or behind the 3-point line, Tina Thompson just couldn't miss. Even when she did, the ball still looked like it would go in.
Diana Taurasi can remember the last time she saw her U.S. teammate play like that: when she helped guide the Houston Comets to four straight WNBA titles the first four years of the league.
"It was four-peat Tina," Taurasi joked at the half of the U.S.' 108-63 rout of China on Monday night.
Thompson was the catalyst in the win, scoring 13 of her 27 points during a 23-0 run in the first quarter that turned a one-point deficit into a blowout. Despite her success, the 12-year WNBA veteran was quick to deflect the praise to her teammates.
"It was just one of those nights," Thompson said. "It was the first time that we didn't get doubled in the post. My teammates passed me the ball and I just took the shots.
"Anyone on this team could do that on any given night. When someone gets hot you just keep want to feed them the ball."
Once she started going, hitting 3-pointers and lay-ups during the spurt, her teammates started looking for her more and more.
"Whenever you have a player that goes on a roll like that you try and find her," point guard Kara Lawson said. "Tina's such a great matchup for us because she can go inside-outside so we were looking for stuff for her."
Thompson missed only one shot in the first half, a 3-pointer that just rattled out. She finished the game 10-for-14 from the field and fell short of Lisa Leslie's Olympic record of 35 points set in 1996 against Japan.
"I wasn't aware of it, until they told me about it and put me back in the game to have a go at it," Thompson said "We got the 'W' and that's all that matters."
After a sluggish start in their first game, and a loss to China the Good Luck Beijing tournament in April, the Americans were determined to get out quickly against the host nation.
"We were really locked in and focused," U.S. co-captain Katie Smith said. "We didn't want to let them stick around. We wanted to let the crowd know that we were ready to play. You don't want to play around with teams, if you have a chance to make a statement and put them away early you do that."
The women's team was inspired by watching the men's victory over China the night before.
"Watching the game from the stands last night really motivated us," said DeLisha Milton-Jones. "Seeing LeBron (James) block a shot with two hands off the backboard and just the way they were playing defense got us ready. Everyone came into this game knowing the crowd could be a factor."
Thompson and her U.S. teammates took the crowd out of the game by the end of the first quarter and handed China its worst defeat in Olympic history, surpassing a 100-62 loss to the U.S. in 2004.
The host nation figured to be the toughest test for the Americans (2-0) in their pool. They didn't provide much of a challenge. Up next is winless Mali, which got a scare when star Hamchetou Maiga of the Houston Comets injured her ankle in the third quarter of a loss to the Czech Republic.
"We look at this as step by step process," Lawson said. "Now is just practice, we need to be our best on the 19th, 21st, and 23rd for the medal rounds."