07/19/2021 at 8:58 AM CEST
The United States basketball team had the contribution of 19 points from point guard Damian Lillard, leader of the balanced attack, which allowed them to win 83-76 against Spain in the last preparation match for both teams on the way to Tokyo 2020.
The United States, who had suffered consecutive defeats against Nigeria and Australia confirmed that they have already found chemistry as a team and although He is still missing the additions of point guard Jrue Holiday, forward Khris Middleton, and Hispanic guard Kevin Booker, who play the NBA Finals, achieved a good victory against the current world champion, who was superior in the first half.
But in the end the best attack in the United States was imposed thanks to the contribution of Lillard, but above all to the inspiration of the latest acquisition to the team, the young forward Keldon Johnson, who contributed 15 points, 10 in the second part that would be decisive.
While forward Kevin Durant finished with 14 points and guard Zach LeVine, who started, reached 13, including three triples in the second half that were devastating for the Spanish team.
While the base Ricky Rubio was the great figure of Spain and the match by getting 23 points, but only 1 of 5 3-point attempts, in addition to capturing three rebounds.
Two other players, the pivots Willy Hernangómez, who came out of reserve, and the veteran Marc Gasol, who started, contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively, to be together with Rubio the only ones who finished with double-digit numbers.
The match began dominant by the United States, who saw how they got a 9-3 partial after a triple and a basket by Lillard, but that was nothing more than a mirage because at the head of the direction of the game in Spain was Rubio who broke to the defense of the rival team and also responded with five points.
Rubio’s second basket opened Spain’s 0-11 streak who took the lead with a partial 9-14, which placed center Pau Gasol with his first touchdown in the United States in more than two years after he had to leave the NBA due to a serious injury to his right foot .
Spain was the owner in all facets of the game with a perfect movement of the bench by the coach, the Italian Sergio Scariolo, who retired Rubio to give him rest and removed Sergio Rodríguez who maintained the same intensity and success of the team both in attack as in defense.
That was what allowed Spain to finish the first quarter with a partial advantage of 18-14, without the United States being able to find its best success in the shots to the basket and the key figure of the attack, Durant, he didn’t have his best inspiration either, two points.
But in the second quarter, although the dominance of Spain continued, very well positioned within the paint with the dominance of Pau Gasol, Usman Garuba and Pierre Oriola dominating the rebounds, the United States improved in the shots to the basket with Durant as the protagonist.
The Brooklyn Nets star managed to reach 11 points, the same as Lillard, and allowed the United States the break went with only two points down on the scoreboard (36-38).
Spain had in Rubio the great figure who had dominated in all facets of the game with 14 points, three rebounds and an assist.
While Rudy Fernández, with two triples, and Pau finish with six goals each, while the older of the brothers Gasol remembered his best times in the NBA and he also imposed his presence under the hoops with four rebounds in addition to giving two touchdown passes.
Oriola was in charge of shining in the actions under the basket by capturing four balls that allowed Spain to go to rest with 26 rebounds for just 15 from the United States.
The return to the track Mandalay Bay Events Center, in Las Vegas (Nevada), where the game was played, served for Spain to start with two consecutive baskets by Rubio that put the partial 42-39 after center Draymond Green scored a triple.
The same did Johnson, the protégé of coach Gregg Popovich, whom he has developed with the San Antonio Spurs, and who came to the selection after the Covid-19 loss of guard Bradley Beal, of the Washington Wizards.
Johnson did not disappoint Popovich by giving new life to the United States attack, but every time they tried to get closer to a tie on the scoreboard, Rubio’s magic emerged to respond with a basket that kept Spain with the advantage.
But with 3:33 minutes to go in the period, Lillard’s basket arrived, making the run 48-46 to give the United States the first lead of the game since the start of the game.
Then came Johnson’s basket that expanded it for the 50-46 run and the game’s history completely changed in favor of the United States, which began to have a better understanding as a team and also improved in the actions under the hoops.
LaVine nailed a triple that made a dent in the morale of the Spanish team as it put the United States up 53-46, with the biggest advantage it had had so far in the game.
Marc Gasol made one of two personnel shots for the 53-47 run that snapped an 11-0 US streak that had found in the young Johnson the key player who turned his luck after the third quarter ended with 13 points to his credit and the Stars and Stripes team seven up (57-50) after a triple by Rodríguez.
As soon as the fourth period began, LaVine again scored a decisive triple that put the United States with the biggest advantage of the game (60-50) without Spain being able to recover from the best game of the Olympic champions and scoring inspiration.
With victory, the United States tied their preparation games 2-2 for Tokyo 2020, where they will travel tomorrow, Monday, and will have its first game against France, on July 25, in the debut of Group A.
While Spain, which suffered its first defeat (4-1) in preparation for Tokyo 2020, also plans to travel to Japan.