Friday, July 12, 2024

Team USA defeats medal contender Canada in first Olympic basketball tune-up

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LAS VEGAS – Playing in their first game together in preparation for the 2024 Paris Olympics, the U.S. men’s basketball team defeated Canada 86-72 in an exhibition contest Wednesday.

Anthony Edwards had 13 points, Steph Curry delivered 12 and Anthony Davis recorded 10 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks for the U.S. LeBron James added seven points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in 19 minutes, and Jrue Holiday had 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and two blocks.

The U.S. is favored to win Olympic gold for the fifth consecutive time, and Canada’s NBA-laden roster – featuring Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jamal Murry and RJ Barrett – is a medal contender in search of its first Olympic podium finish since capturing silver in 1936.

The U.S. will play Australia (July 15) and Serbia (July 17) in Abu Dhabi, and South Sudan (July 20) and Germany (July 22) in London in Olympic tune-ups. The U.S. opens Olympic play July 28 against Serbia.

It was a good start to the exhibition schedule for the U.S. considering its roster has practiced together just four times and given Canada’s potential to medal.

U.S. coach Steve Kerr started James, Curry, Holiday, Devin Booker and Joel Embiid, and the Americans fell behind 11-1.

But the luxury Kerr has that no other team has is his next five were Anthony Edwards, Jayson Tatum, Bam Adebayo, Davis and Tyrese Haliburton. They helped jump-start a 14-3 run for a 28-23 U.S. lead.

The U.S. owned a 41-33 halftime lead and opened a 50-37 advantage on nine consecutive points, including two 3-pointers, by Curry. Edwards’ buzzer-beating 3 at the end of the third quarter put the U.S. ahead 69-54.

The Americans’ much-needed size and defense were on display. They outrebounded Canada 53-48, blocked nine shots and held Canada to 33.8% shooting. The U.S. shot 50.7% from the field despite making just 7-of 23 3-pointers.

The U.S. was down to 10 players. Kevin Durant missed the game with a sore calf, and the U.S. replaced Kawhi Leonard with Derrick White, who will join the team in Abu Dhabi.

Barrett led Canada with 12 points, and Dillon Brooks and Gilgeous-Alexander each scored 10 points.

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