For a minute there, it looked as if Gregg Popovich and Team USA were going to head into Tokyo on a tough note.
The men’s national basketball team, after dropping two of its exhibition games, trailed Spain late into the third quarter on Sunday night in Las Vegas. While the game doesn’t technically matter, another loss in the run-up to the Olympics would be very concerning.
A big defensive stand in the third quarter helped Team USA rally to beat Spain 83-76 for a win in the final exhibition game before Olympic competition starts Friday.
Team USA closes out Spain for final win
Team USA put up only 14 points in the first period and trailed by two at halftime.
At midway through the third quarter, the Americans found their game.
The Americans regained the lead off a big Damian Lillard 3-pointer before closing out the period on a 12-5 run. They held Spain to just 12 points in the quarter to claim a seven-point lead. Spain hit only one field goal in nearly six minutes of the quarter, too.
By then, Spain seemed out of it. The United States cruised through the fourth quarter and to the seven-point win for its second straight victory.
Ricky Rubio led Spain with 23 points and three rebounds, and Marc Gasol put up 10 points of his own. Those two were the only ones to score in double figures for Spain. The team had 20 total turnovers compared to eight from Team USA.
Lillard led the United States with 19 points and six assists, and Keldon Johnson added 15 off the bench — 10 of which came in the third quarter while he went a perfect 5-of-5 from the field in his first game with the team. Johnson joined the squad after Bradley Beal was placed in the COVID-19 health and safety protocol. Kevin Love also stepped away from the team with a calf injury, and was replaced by JaVale McGee.
Kevin Durant scored 14 points and Zach LaVine finished with 13.
What’s next for Team USA?
Team USA will now head to Tokyo, where the opening ceremony for the rescheduled Olympics will take place Friday.
The Americans’ first group play game will take place July 25 against France, which, along with Iran and the Czech Republic, make up Group A. Team USA is a -15.5 point favorite against the French, according to BetMGM.
The United States will then play Iran on July 27 before closing out the group stage with the Czech Republic on July 31.
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