Tony Parker: U.S. tough to beat

French star Tony Parker defends U.S. guard Kobe Bryant in the first day of pool play at the 2012 Summer Games in London. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The French national team boasts an NBA-caliber lineup, but the United States boasts a MVP-caliber lineup.

Three-time league most valuable player LeBron James had  solid all-around game while three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant had a team-leading 22 points and 2008 NBA MVP Kobe Bryant had 10 points to lead Team USA to a 98-71 victory over France in the first day of pool competition in men’s basketball.

All 12 U.S. players scored in the game, even rookie forward Anthony Davis (three points). Kevin Love broke out of his mini-slump with 14 points off the bench, and Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook each had nine.

It was a solid debut for USA Basketball at the London Olympics. After a disjointed start that saw Team USA lead by just a point in the first quarter, the Americans went on a 17-6 run in the second quarter and blew the game open. In the end, the U.S. is off to a 1-0 start in their group — which includes Argentina, Nigeria, Tunisia, Lithuania,  and France — and the whole team got a celebratory hug from First Lady Michelle Obama.

“They’re going to be very, very tough to beat,” Tony Parker told The Associated Press.

The San Antonio Spurs point guard scored 10 points for France and played with special goggles to protect a surgically repaired left eye. France fell to 0-5 in Olympic competition against the USA. Ali Traore led the French with 12 points.

Even though LeBron had only nine points, he affected the game in different ways. He had five rebounds and had a team-best eight assists, including one unbelievable 40-foot bounce pass to Durant that led to a dunk.

Chris Paul (five points) and Deron Williams (six assists) handled the ball-handling duties for most of the time, but it was LeBron who created shots for his teammates.

“We don’t care who scores. Guys are making the right basketball plays,” Durant said. “We had so many great passes that led to scores. It doesn’t matter who scores.”

The French national team includes Nicolas Batum (Portland Trail Blazers), Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs), Kevin Seraphin (Washington Wizards) and Ronny Turiaf (L.A. Clippers).

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