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Team USA basketball: Men and women pick up wins Sunday

U.S. forward Kevin Durant blocks a shot by Spain center Marc Gasol.
U.S. forward Kevin Durant blocks a shot by Spain center Marc Gasol during the pre-Olympic exhibition game Sunday in Las Vegas.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Damian Lillard scored 19 points and Keldon Johnson added 15 to help the U.S. beat Spain 83-76 on Sunday night in the final pre-Olympic game for both teams.

Johnson just joined the team two days earlier after Bradley Beal tested positive for the coronavirus and Kevin Love withdrew because of a calf injury. The U.S. also added JaVale McGee, who didn’t play.

This was the U.S. team’s fourth exhibition in eight days in Las Vegas. The Americans were supposed to have a fifth against Australia on Friday, but that was canceled out of caution because of the coronavirus issues the Americans were dealing with.

The two top-ranked team in the world struggled early on with Spain missing its first six shots before finally getting a basket 4:35 into the game.

Despite the slow start the Spaniards led 18-14 after one. They extended the lead to 38-36 at the half. Lillard and Durant each had 11 points at the half. The two combined to go 7 for 16 from the field while the rest of the U.S. squad was 5 of 19. Ricky Rubio had 14 points at the half for Spain.

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Trailing 46-42 in the third quarter, the U.S. finally got going. The Americans scored the first 11 points during a 23-6 run that spanned the final two quarters. Johnson had eight points during the game-changing spurt. His dunk midway through the burst brought the crowd to life.

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Spain only had one field goal in the final 5:44 of the quarter and was down 57-50 heading into the fourth quarter.

The U.S. kept the burst going to start the fourth and led 65-52 on Jayson Tatum’s reverse layup with 7:30 left. Spain could get no closer than eight the rest of the way.

Rubio finished with 23 points,

Women win 93-62

The U.S. women’s Olympic team was in unfamiliar territory having dropped two exhibition games in a row for the first time in a decade.

The Americans rebounded with a strong effort to beat Nigeria 93-62 on Sunday in the final pre-Olympic exhibition tune-up for both teams.

“It feels good,” U.S. coach Dawn Staley said. “To come out and play the way we did on both sides of the basketball. We shared it, got our bigs the ball. We made a concerted effort to do that. ”I think everyone in the locker room feels good about being able to impact the game in a lot of different ways.“

A’ja Wilson scored 16 points and Breanna Stewart added 14 to lead the U.S., which dropped consecutive exhibition games for the first time since 2011 with losses to the WNBA All-Stars and Australia this week.

U.S. center Brittney Griner scores against Nigeria's Elizabeth Williams.
U.S. center Brittney Griner scores against Nigeria’s Elizabeth Williams during a pre-Olympic exhibition game Sunday in Las Vegas.
(Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

“No one wants to be on the team that loses,” Wilson said. “I was a little like uh-oh. People talk and jump the gun say everything and anything. the vets were like it’s ok, it’s part of the game, we’ll get back. Coach came in today and said we’re getting back to our dominance and that helped me feel a little more at ease. The people we have in the locker room are so talented we know what we were doing.“

The Americans got off to a strong start, racing out to a 20-4 lead. After shooting 2 for 18 from behind the 3-point arc in the loss to Australia, the U.S. pounded the ball inside early and often against Nigeria. The first 10 points came from Wilson and Brittney Griner.

The U.S. led 29-15 after one quarter as Stewart had 10 points. Griner took over in the second quarter to help the Americans extend the lead to 55-34 at the half. Nigeria never made a run in the second half against the U.S., which was missing Diana Taurasi for the third straight exhibition game as she recovers from a hip injury.


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