Damian Lillard and Team USA still adjusting to international play and working to get rhythm back

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Lillard and Team USA still adjusting to international play and working to get rhythm back originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

Following Monday's 91-83 loss to Australia, Team USA now finds itself with an 0-2 exhibition record and three more friendlies to go before heading to Tokyo.

In the loss, Trail Blazers all-star point guard Damian Lillard finished with 22 points, four rebounds, one assist, and one steal in 30 minutes, while shooting 8-of-15 from the field and 6-of-11 from behind the arc. 

Of his 22 points, 16 came in the first half while it seemed Team USA ran out of gas down the stretch. 

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Australia closed the game on a 9-1 run after tying it at 82 with less than four minutes remaining.

Heading into this year’s Summer Olympics, the Americans were 54-2 in exhibition games dating back to 1992. 

But after dropping their first two exhibition games, Lillard pointed to a couple of factors as to why.

“These teams [we are playing] are experienced, they’ve spent a lot of time together and we are still working at becoming a team, still getting our legs under us, getting in shape,” Lillard said postgame.

We not just gonna come out here, roll the ball out and beat these teams. We’ve got to play the right way, compete, and we’ve got to come out here to win and do everything to give ourselves our best chance to win. – Damian Lillard 

Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich was pleased with how his team responded from their loss to Nigeria.

“I thought we got better tonight,” Popovich said. “After a short time together there’s a lot of things that have to be covered, but the first half and second half were two different beasts.”

Pop was happy with his team’s defense in the first half against Australia.

But as he pointed out, they “tired out in the second half.”

Lillard also mentioned that conditioning along with adjusting to international play versus the NBA are two major contributors to their current play.

Pop added, “we have to get some guys that have to get their legs and rhythm back, but in general, we need more conditioning, which is totally understandable and we’re just sticking with the process of trying to get better every game and we did that tonight. So, I was pleased with what I saw.”

We just get smarter and get in better condition and then we have an opportunity to do something very good. – Greg Popovich

In the win for Australia, former Trail Blazers and current San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills led the way with 22 points in 30 minutes of action.

Team USA now has three more exhibition games remaining, starting with a game against Argentina on July 13th at 3:00 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Network.