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USA comfortably win basketball opener

LONDON -- Kevin Durant finished with 22 points as the United States powered home after a sluggish start in a 98-71 win over France on Sunday on the opening day of the men's Olympic basketball tournament.

The U.S. team, loaded with NBA stars and a heavy favorite to defend its title, struggled early and was leading by only one point at the end of the first quarter.

A 30-15 second quarter was the beginning of the end for France, which is led by the San Antonio guard Tony Parker and has five other NBA players, the most in any squad apart fro the United States.

In the second half, the Americans produced enough alley-oop passes and dunks to draw oohs and aahs from the crowd and subdue the French.

In other game, Spain men beat China 97-81 in Olympic basketball,

Pau Gasol had 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead Spain to a 97-81 victory over China on Sunday in the Olympic men's basketball opener for both.

Spain got off to a slow start and held just 19-17 lead the end of the first quarter. But they went on a 7-0 run in the second quarter and weren't seriously challenged the rest of the game.

Spain was silver medalist in Beijing four years ago and is the two-time European champion. They are expected to challenge for a gold medal here with their imposing front line of the 2.13-meter (7-foot) Gasol, his 2.16-meter (7-foot-1) brother Marc and 2.8-meter (6-foot-10) Serge Ibaka - who finished with 17 points.

China's Yi Jianlian scored a game-high 30 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.

“They're going to be very, very tough to beat,” Parker said.

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U.S. guard Kobe Bryant, right, is challenged by French guard Tony Parker during the Men's Preliminary Round Group A basketball match between the United States and France at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Sunday, July 29. (AP)

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