Off to Tokyo on a high note.
Team USA aced their biggest test in the exhibition round Sunday night, defeating Spain, 83-76 in their final tune-up before Tokyo. With the victory, Team USA concludes the exhibition stages with a 2-2 record through the eight-day camp in Las Vegas.
For Kevin Durant, it was another productive outing ahead of his chase for his third Olympic gold medal. Although not having a great shooting night (5-of-13 shooting from the field and 2-of-8 from three), Durant finished with 14 points to go with two rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 30 minutes of play. KD averaged 16.3 points a game in the exhibitions.
Damian Lillard led Team USA with 19 points in 32 minutes followed by Keldon Johnson — the 21-year-old Spur, who was officially added to the roster two days ago — with 15 points, three rebounds, two steals and one block in 17 minutes of play off the bench.
Gregg Popovich — who said Team USA will have four or five practices before their opening game against France on July 25 — is pleased with the growth he’s seen from his players in the exhibition stages and hopes to build on it.
“Everything. We’re in better condition. We understand how we want to play, what we have to do for this group of people offensively and defensively. They’ve come a long way in a short period of time and that’s what’s inspiring and keeps me very excited about the whole group. They still have a long way to go and we got another week before we play. Hopefully, we’ll continue to improve during the week and be ready to play a very good French team,” said Popovich postgame.
Despite the US only finishing .500 in the pre-Olympic exhibitions, Ricky Rubio — 23 points, three rebounds and one assist in 22 minutes — believes Team USA will figure it out come the Olympic Games. The Timberwolves guard is well aware of the potential of Team USA with Spain playing the United States national team in the gold medal game in two of the past three Olympic games.
“It’s the first time they are playing together, it takes time,” Rubio said. “They are dangerous if they play as a team.”
Team USA will open their gold medal defense against France which features Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and possibly stash Isaia Cordinier. The game is scheduled for 8 a.m. ET