Team USA did not impress to start its final domestic exhibition game before the World Cup of Basketball tips off in Spain later this month. Luckily for them, the second half proved much more inspiring.
After a rough first half that saw them grab just a 52-47 lead over Puerto Rico at the break, Team USA dominated the second half to cruise to a 112-86 victory at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Americans came out of the locker room determined to turn a tight game into a laugher. Team USA won the third-quarter 35-20 to open up a 20-point lead heading into the final period, which ended up serving as little more than extended garbage time. That tide-turning quarter ended on this buzzer-beating three-pointer from forward Rudy Gay:
Oddly enough, that shot was the third quarter-ending shot of the game following Ricky Sanchez's first-quarter follow dunk and Klay Thompson's running three-pointer in the second quarter. The fourth quarter ended on a missed Puerto Rico jumper, but at that point it wouldn't have meant very much — certainly not enough to warrant another post on this esteemed blog.
Although the third quarter proved to be the deciding portion of the game, Team USA opened the fourth with their best highlight of the exhibition. After a poor pass on a fast break from James Harden, Stephen Curry got fancy with a (mostly unnecessary) save and went behind his bask to feed Harden for a dunk:
Team USA will now head to the Canary Islands for its final training and exhibition match (vs. Slovenia next Tuesday) before the World Cup begins on August 30. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski still has to cut four players to get the roster down to 12 for the tournament. Those decisions figure to come soon.
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