Lillard, Johnson lead U.S. to pre-Olympic tuneup win over Spain
LAS VEGAS — Two days after being added to the Olympic group, Keldon Johnson keyed an enormous third-quarter run to assist the U.S. beat Spain.
Damian Lillard scored 19 factors and Johnson added 15 in an 83-76 victory Sunday night time within the closing pre-Olympic sport for each groups earlier than they head to Tokyo.
Johnson had been one of many younger gamers coaching in opposition to the Individuals, and had appeared in two exhibition video games. The San Antonio ahead/guard was added to the Olympic squad Friday after Bradley Beal examined constructive for the coronavirus and Kevin Love withdrew due to a calf damage. The U.S. additionally added JaVale McGee, who didn’t play.
“Keldon Johnson performed a extremely strong basketball sport. made cuts to the bucket,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich mentioned. “When he did go to the bucket he was very bodily. Very strong in half-court defence. He had a really, superb night time.”
This was the U.S. group’s fourth exhibition in eight days in Las Vegas. The Individuals have been purported to have a fifth in opposition to Australia on Friday, however that was cancelled out of warning due to the coronavirus points the Individuals have been coping with.
The 2 top-ranked group on the planet struggled early on with Spain lacking its first six pictures earlier than lastly getting a basket 4:35 into the sport.
Regardless of the gradual begin the Spaniards led 18-14 after one. They prolonged the result in 38-36 on the half. Lillard and Durant every had 11 factors on the half. The 2 mixed to go 7 for 16 from the sector whereas the remainder of the U.S. squad was 5 of 19. Ricky Rubio had 14 factors on the half for Spain.
“The defence was fairly strong. we couldn’t make a shot, however they didn’t let up defensively,” Popovich mentioned. “Stored their focus in that regard which might be essential.”
Trailing 46-42 within the third quarter, the U.S. lastly acquired going. The Individuals scored the primary 11 factors throughout a 23-6 run that spanned the ultimate two quarters. Johnson had eight factors through the game-changing spurt. His dunk halfway by way of the burst introduced the group to life.
“I’m out right here to be that vitality man, convey life to the group everytime you want it,” Johnson mentioned. “The third quarter we wanted a spark. not saying as a result of I acquired a few buckets. On the defence finish, attempting to convey some sort of vitality or spark so we will recover from the hump.”
Spain solely had one discipline aim within the closing 5:44 of the quarter and was down 57-50 heading into the fourth quarter.
The U.S. saved the burst going to start out the fourth and led 65-52 on Jayson Tatum’s reverse layup with 7:30 left. Spain may get no nearer than eight the remainder of the way in which.
Rubio completed with 23 factors,
Whereas the U.S. had struggled at occasions in Las Vegas, Rubio, who has performed internationally for years, thinks they’ll determine it out.
“It’s the primary time they’re taking part in collectively, it takes time,” he mentioned. “They’re harmful in the event that they play as a group.”
BACK WITH THE TEAM
Jerami Grant returned to the U.S. squad after being in well being and security protocols since earlier this week “out of an abundance of warning”
Spain: The Spaniards open pool play in opposition to Japan on July 26.
U.S.: The Individuals open up Olympic pool play in opposition to France subsequent Sunday.