After back-to-back losses Team USA gets first win of exhibition play
Losing back-to-back games typically doesn’t make everyone watching panic. That is unless you're the Team USA men’s national team.
Team USA got its first win of the exhibition season with a 108-80 win over Argentina.
“I don’t think I’ve been surprised by anything,” head coach Gregg Popovich said. “When we picked these guys we picked them for a reason. Their abilities but how much of an affinity they might display for each other.”
Guard Bradley Beal was tied for the team lead in points with 17 in 30 minutes of play.
“What I love is just how everybody is coming together and the camaraderie,” he said. “It’s very rare you see so many talented guys in one room who are unselfish. Coach tells us we’re too unselfish at times.”
This team has two more exhibition games left on the schedule before departing for Tokyo for this year’s Olympics.
Another meeting with Australia is next for Team USA, scheduled for Friday, July 16 with tip-off set for 3 p.m. from the Michelob Ultra Arena.
Australia beat Team USA 91-83 Monday, July 12.
“That’s something that we coaches think about all the time,” Popovich said. “The last thing we want to do is overwork people to the point where they get injured. But the first priority is to get back in shape. I was thrilled that this was a back-to-back for that reason.”
Beal was joined by forward Kevin Durant who also scored 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field.
The entire starting five scored at least 12 points.
“That just comes from us getting stops and getting out in transition -- which is something we love to do,” Beal said. “We want to use our athletic ability and talents to draw and kick for each other.”
The Team USA defense forced Argentina into 23 turnovers while committing nine of its own on the other end.
“I thought we sustained [our stamina] pretty well,” Popovich said. “The game against Australia we competed well, rebounded, played defense, ran the floor and had good pace for a half. And that dissipated through the second half. Tonight, I thought we maintained that pretty much throughout the game.”
As a team, Team USA made 13 of their 29 three-point attempts, good for nearly 45 percent.
Forward Jayson Tatum was a late-game scratch prior to tip-off.
“Well, somebody’s gotta take Tatum’s place,” Popovich said. “That leaves eight players so you choose one, simple as that.”
Guard Zach LaVine was moved to the starting lineup and finished with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including a show stopping poster early in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve seen him do some crazier stuff then that but obviously we know his athletic ability,” Beal said. “It doesn’t surprise us but it definitely gave us a lift of energy and a boost for sure.”
In addition, 14 of the team’s 27 assists came from their bigs, led by center Bam Adebayo’s game-high five.
“Both he and [forward Draymond Green] facilitated a lot of action,” Popovich said. “They were very active, got everybody involved and that’s something that’s really important for us. Those are the kind of talents that they have and it fits best with our shooters.”
This team is still not fully completed as three members are still away playing in the NBA Finals.
“I have watched the games,” Popovich said. “I have to admit that I watch three guys more than you watch the teams. I just can’t help myself, I keep watching them, I keep hoping that they stay healthy.”
Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are all away from the team.