After surprising losses to Nigeria and Australia, Team USA bounced back in a big way on Tuesday night in a 108-80 victory over Argentina.
Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal led the way, each scoring 17 points, and the Americans avoided a three-game losing skid for the first time in this era of NBA players being eligible to represent USA Basketball on the international stage.
USA Basketball fans around the country voiced their concerns this week, many stating this year’s roster wasn’t built to maintain the gold standard set by previous teams.
“Our biggest thing is we have to realize it’s not the NBA and Coach Pop keeps re-emphasizing that every single day, It’s way more physical. Guys are smarter,” Beal said. “ Today we got better. Still a lot we can improve on, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
Team USA led early and often Tuesday scoring 33 first-quarter points to start off and shooting 51% from the floor en route to beating Argentina for the 10th consecutive time.
“It was better,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said. “Bit by bit, every day, I hope.”
“The USA played great,” Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said. “They played more aggressive defense than they had in the last two games.”
At the half, the Americans led 58-42 after Durant hit a buzzer-beater 18-foot shot.
“We’re not going to make shots all the time,” Durant said in a televised halftime interview. “But if we continue to guard the way we are, it’ll start to turn for us on offense. … When we keep the ball in front and we get stops and rebounds, then we pretty much can play with a clean slate on the offensive side of the ball.”
With the win, Team USA moves to 1-2 in their Olympic exhibition games with a revenge matchup against Australia Friday night at 6 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.