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 evening within the ultimate pre-Olympic recreation for each groups earlier than they head to Tokyo.
Johnson had been one of many younger gamers coaching in opposition to the People, and had appeared in two exhibition video games. The San Antonio ahead/guard was added to the Olympic squad Friday after Bradley Beal examined optimistic 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 very strong basketball recreation. 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 protection. He had a really, excellent evening.”
This was the U.S. group’s fourth exhibition in eight days in Las Vegas. The People have been presupposed to have a fifth in opposition to Australia on Friday, however that was canceled out of warning due to the coronavirus points the People have been coping with.
The 2 top-ranked group on this 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 sphere whereas the remainder of the U.S. squad was 5 of 19. Ricky Rubio had 14 factors on the half for Spain.
“The protection was fairly strong. we couldn’t make a shot, however they didn’t let up defensively,” Popovich mentioned. “Saved their focus in that regard which shall be vital.”
Trailing 46-42 within the third quarter, the U.S. lastly received going. The People 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 means of the burst introduced the group to life.
“I’m out right here to be that vitality man, carry life to the group everytime you want it,” Johnson mentioned. “The third quarter we wanted a spark. not saying as a result of I received a few buckets. On the protection finish, attempting to carry some type of vitality or spark so we are able to recover from the hump.”
Spain solely had one area aim within the ultimate 5:44 of the quarter and was down 57-50 heading into the fourth quarter.
The U.S. saved the burst going to begin 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 instances 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.”