U.S. women rout Angola, 90-38

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U.S. women rout Angola, 90-38

LONDON -- Another game, another blowout for the U.S. women's basketball team -- not that the score matters to them. That sounds like the right thing to say after Candace Parker had 14 points and 12 rebounds to lead the U.S. to a 90-38 rout of Angola on Monday night. But the Americans aren't just being politically correct. They know they are still a work in progress, having only been together training for two weeks, and are going to play some tough games during the tournament. "The goal is to continue to get better every game and I think that was what we did" against Angola, Parker said. "I think we're continuing to work on things that no matter what the scoreboard can help us down the line." The game against Angola was expected to be an easy romp -- and it was -- with the U.S. overwhelming the Olympic newcomer. "It's definitely about ourselves," said U.S. guard Sue Bird. "That's how Coach Geno Auriemma coaches in college. It's his philosophy. Never about how much you win by or lose by, it's how we played. Especially in a game like tonight where going in we kind of had a feeling it might be like this. Not to play to the score, not to relax. "This is an opportunity for us to play together and we need to take advantage of every opportunity we get." Parker finished with her second double-double of the tournament. She is averaging 12.5 points and 12.5 rebounds. The Americans (2-0) have won their last 35 straight games in the Olympics and four consecutive gold medals while Angola is looking for its first victory. The team lost its opener to Turkey by 22 points meaning African nations have only won one of their 25 games in the Olympics since Congo -- formerly known as Zaire -- first qualified in the 1996 Atlanta Games. Nigeria owns the only victory, beating Korea by four points in 2004. The Americans had played African teams twice and routed them both. The U.S. beat Zaire by 60 points in 1996 and then Mali by 56 at the Beijing Games in 2008. Angola (0-2) did fare a little better than its continental neighbors. The team stayed close to the Americans for the first quarter, only trailing by 10 at the end of the period. Then the U.S. put the game away outscoring the African country 19-6 in the second period. Parker hit two reverse lay-ins in the quarter. The Americans continued the rout in the second half. The strong crowd which had witnessed some very competitive games all day, emptied out early in the final period knowing the outcome wasn't in doubt. "We decided we want to enjoy the game, we understood before the difference in the standard," Angola coach Anibal Moreira said. "We feel a lot of pride to be able to play against such a team, who are idols for our players. We hoped to get to 50 points but we didn't succeed." Sonia Guadalupe scored 11 points to lead Angola. Auriemma decided before the game not to play center Sylvia Fowles, who has a sore left foot. "I tweaked it a little bit yesterday in practice and I gave it a go this morning and it didn't feel quite right so we're just resting it and playing it safe," Fowles said. It didn't matter as the 6-foot-4 Parker looked confident on the floor, demanding the ball in the post and running the floor for easy layups. The game was a contrast for the U.S. from its opener when the Americans struggled on offense for the first three quarters before pulling away from Croatia. Despite the lopsided final score, Auriemma has been impressed in the growth of women's basketball that he's seen in Angola and other African countries. "Angola's one of those countries you hope, because of what's happened with the U.S. and some other places in women's basketball, that other African countries pick up and say that could be us," Auriemma said. "Hopefully that's a country that becomes accustomed to playing in the Olympics. Hopefully they devote more energy and resources and they can come back to the Olympics on a regular basis." Next up for the U.S. is Turkey, which improved to 2-0 in pool play with a 61-57 victory over the Czech Republic. The Americans also will face China and the Czech Republic. The U.S. beat the Czechs in the finals of the 2010 world championship to qualify for the London Games. In other games Saturday, France shocked Australia 74-70 in OT. It was the first loss by the Aussies to anyone other than the U.S. in an Olympic game since 1996. China routed Croatia 83-58; Russia beat Brazil 69-59; and Canada edged Britain 73-65.

First impressions: Mitchell sees season-high in targets with Gronkowski out

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First impressions: Mitchell sees season-high in targets with Gronkowski out

FOXBORO -- Here are some quick-hit impressions from Sunday's matchup between the Patriots and Rams . . . 

* How will the Patriots offense look without Rob Gronkowski? With a week to prepare for life post-Gronk, the Patriots leaned heavily on their three-receiver sets. That meant plenty of work for rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who saw a season-high in targets with 10. Tom Brady seemed more than happy to throw to Mitchell at the line of scrimmage with the Rams playing off-coverage, leading to relatively short-but-productive gains. 

* Brady seemed to take exception with something he saw from Mitchell during a drive mid-way through the fourth quarter. On the sideline, Brady looked heated while looking over pictures of the drive with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Brady was later caught on the Fox broadcast speaking to Mitchell on the bench. As well as Brady's young lockermate has performed, it was a moment that indicated he isn't doing everything perfectly just yet. 

* McDaniels got creative early with Gronkowski gone. He used the two-back pony set to start the game and handed off to Dion Lewis for four yards. He also found success with LeGarrette Blount and the Patriots running game, using four running plays on the first five snaps of the game. McDaniels then had his offense go five-wide and he sent Julian Edelman in motion. On the subsequent drive, McDaniels turned to the screen game to try to catch Los Angeles' aggressive front off-guard. 

* The Patriots offense stalled at points thanks in part to the Rams' front: Aaron Donald blew up a run play in the second quarter and on the same drive Brady was pressured on back-to-back snaps, leading to a punt. It wasn't an immaculate day from the Patriots offense, but against a talented defensive line, and without their most dynamic offensive player, they'll take it. 

* The Patriots locked things down defensively in what was an all-around dominant performance. Malcolm Butler bounced back after a difficult game versus the Jets, allowing just two catches for 12 yards on five targets until allowing a 66-yarder to Kenny Britt. He broke up two passes and picked off a gift when tight end Lance Kendricks let a pass bounce off of his hands and into the air. Devin McCourty was sound in coverage, breaking up two passes to Britt, a fellow Rutgers product. Britt later got him back for a one-yard garbage-time touchdown. Eric Rowe appeared to play well until suffering a hamstring injury that knocked him from the game. 

* Up front, Alan Branch played with abandon fresh off of finding out that he will not be suspended four games this weekend. He had three hurries, a quarterback hit and a stuffed run to continue his strong season. Rob Ninkovich (two hurries, a hit and a sack), Trey Flowers (four hurries and a hit) and Chris Long (one hurry, three hits and a sack) were pains for rookie quarterback Jared Goff. 

* Stephen Gostkowski was a perfect four-for-four on his field goals, knocking down a 48-yarder and a 45-yarder from the right hash mark and a 45-yarder from the left hash on consecutive drives. He also made both of his extra-point attempts. 

* Some special teams notes . . . Cyrus Jones muffed a punt from "weapon," as Bill Belichick called him this week, Johnny Hekker. The punt-return job was Danny Amendola's until Amendola suffered an ankle injury that knocked him from the game. That could be a critical injury to the Patriots in the kicking game. Amendola has also been a key part of the offense on third downs and in red-zone situations. Jonathan Jones was flagged twice on special teams.