LAS VEGAS – These games don’t count. Right now, this is the only saving grace for USA Basketball.
And for the first time in 29 years that NBA players have adapted for the national team, there have been a handful of boos at the end of a game – at home, no less.
Patty Mills scored 22 points and Australia held the United States scoreless on the field for the 4:34 final en route to beat the Americans 91-83 on Monday night, knocking down all three reigning Olympic gold medalists. at 0-2 in their five-game list leading up to the Tokyo Games.
“I thought we got better tonight,” said USA coach Gregg Popovich, whose side lost to Nigeria on Saturday. “After a short time together there’s a lot that needs to be covered, but the first and second half were two different beasts.
“In the first half, we defended as we wanted. … We bounced back better. We moved the ball better on the attacking side and had more rhythm. In the second half, we got tired. “
Joe Ingles scored 17 points, Matisse Thybulle scored 12 and Chris Goulding had 11 for Australia.
“We came into this game hoping to win,” said Ingles.
Damian Lillard led the United States with 22 points, while Kevin Durant scored 17 and Bradley Beal finished with 12. But the Americans lost a 10-point lead in the second half and only lost back-to-back games. that for the third time since the NBA. players started wearing red, white and blue in 1992.
The other cases: two in a row at the 2002 FIBA World Championship and two in a row at the 2019 Basketball World Cup. The United States finished sixth in the first tournament, seventh in the other. And while these are glorified scrums, this is already certain – a medal seems far from being a lock for the United States.
“This is not the first time that I have seen the United States team being tested,” said Lillard. “Maybe not beaten twice in a row, but I’ve seen it before. These other teams and these other countries continue to improve. These players, they improve, they become more confident and they also want to beat us badly. It’s definitely noticeable when you’re in the field. “
Jayson Tatum’s layup with 4:35 left gave the Americans an 82-80 lead. Australia scored the United States 11-1 the rest of the way, and Mills – who plays for Popovich in San Antonio – did most of the damage for the Boomers down the stretch.
“I just expect him to do it,” Ingles said of Mills’ big result. “That’s what he’s been doing for 12 years. It’s just what he does for our group. “
Favored 16.5 points before the game, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Americans watched the game for much of the first half. A 20-6 run – capped by five points from Team Select Keldon Johnson’s appeal – put the United States eight at the end of the first quarter, and Lillard closed its first half by 16 points with a 3-point score 31.7 seconds before intermission that gave the Americans a 46-35 lead.
The halftime lead was nine, the same lead the United States had at the start of the third quarter against Nigeria before letting it slip away.
And the same thing happened in this one.
The United States’ lead in the third quarter was as large as 10 and was 58-50 when Lillard scored three points midway through the period. But Australia ended the quarter on a 19-6 run, Goulding scored 3 points at the end of time and Australia took a 69-64 lead in the final 10 minutes.
“We are going to learn lessons from it,” Popovich said.
Australia: The Boomers, according to USA Basketball records, are now 2-28 all-time against the Americans in the senior men’s national competition. Australia’s other victory came at a pre-World Cup show in 2019.… Australia had a big 44-22 advantage in paint points.
United States: The Americans changed the starting lineup, with Jerami Grant for Jayson Tatum and Draymond Green for Bam Adebayo. … The United States was overtaken 32-25.
Kevin Love, who only played three minutes in Saturday’s loss to Nigeria, was the only Olympic player who did not enter the game for the United States. The Americans used 10 players; the other eight Olympians in Las Vegas, as well as Select Team promoting Johnson and Darius Garland. The Olympic trio of Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker remain in the NBA finals.
Australia center Aron Baynes limped at 3:49 of the game after colliding with Beal. Baynes was defending as Beal steered him towards him, and Baynes grabbed his right knee after contact. He went to the locker room, then returned to the Boomers bench later in the first half but did not return. Australians think it’s no worse than a bruise.
Australia: face Nigeria on Tuesday in Las Vegas.
USA: face Argentina on Tuesday in Las Vegas.
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