On Tuesday, we saw what we thought we would see out of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team.
Behind Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal’s 17 points apiece, Team USA defeated Argentina 108-80 at Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
After losing their first two exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia, Team USA was limping into this game against Argentina. However, they got off to a quick start and led by 14 after one quarter and 16 points at halftime. They would cruise the rest of the way.
Zach LaVine had 15, Damian Lillard added 13, and Bam Adebayo finished with 12 points. Argentina was led by 41-year-old Luis Scola’s 16 points and five rebounds.
Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich was happy with his team’s efforts from start to finish.
“I thought we sustained it pretty well in our game against Australia, and we competed well, rebounded, played defense, ran the floor, and had good pace for one half, but then it dissipated through the second half,” Popovich said. “Tonight, I thought we maintained (effort) pretty much throughout the game, so hopefully, that’s a sign that we are in a little better condition.”
The international game is different than the NBA. It’s less time(40 minutes), and it’s more physical, which Beal discussed after the game.
“The biggest thing we have to realize is that it’s not the NBA, and coach Pop keeps reemphasizing that to us every single day,” Beal said. “It’s more physical. These guys have been playing together for five, 10-plus years, so they have this experience and chemistry. We’re trying to develop that in a short period of time.”
The game’s highlight came in the fourth when LaVine threw down a poster dunk and was fouled by Juan Pablo Vaulet. It was a great moment for Team USA, and it cemented the victory.
Team USA will have a few days off before getting back at it on Friday in a rematch against Australia.
Team USA was without Jayson Tatum, who missed Tuesday’s game due to a sore knee.
Photo: Team USA