Team USA basketball easily tops Spain in exhibition game, calming doubters

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor

Team USA may be hemorrhaging stars and have lost to a team of G Leaguers on Wednesday, but they eased concerns two days later by easily dispatching of Spain in an exhibition game in Anaheim.

One day before the team is set to fly to Australia, they downed FIBA’s second-ranked team, 90-81.

Team USA led by double-digits for most of the second half, spare for a 12-2 Spain run in the fourth quarter that cut it to eight points before Joe Harris quickly pushed the advantage again with a three.

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Kemba Walker, the sole All-NBA player still on roster, led the way with 11 points, a team-high eight assists and six rebounds. He was 1-for-2 from beyond the arc, which is slightly closer than the NBA’s line, as the team went 11-for-19 overall.

“We don’t care about the outside noise,” Walker said after the game. “Right now we’re just focused on the guys who are here. Man, we’re working hard to get better each and every day. Tonight we showed it. We played really well against a really good team. That was a good win for us, so hopefully our confidence will keep going up and we’ll keep getting better.”

Fellow starting guard Donovan Mitchell was also impressive, as he led the team with 13 points and added four rebounds. The Jazz star showed explosiveness and a deft shooting touch.

Seven different players scored at least eight points in the 40-minute game, including Jaylen Brown and Brook Lopez, neither of whom played 10 minutes. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was Walker and Brown’s teammate Jayson Tatum, who shined off the bench.

Tatum was one of four double-digit scorers with 11 points in 22 minute and also five rebounds and four assists. He had a particularly impressive pass, threading the needle to find Kyle Kuzma for an easy lay-up.

Despite the solid shooting performance overall — 54.8 percent from the field — Team USA struggled with 23 turnovers to 24 assists. That play should improve as the young team gets more familiar with each other, but that will be a major concern if they stop shooting so well.

After all of the player departures — most recently P.J. Tucker on Friday — Team USA is down to 14 players. They will have to cut down two more spots before the World Cup, but all the remaining players are expected to travel to Australia.

Team USA will tip off the FIBA World Cup in China on Sept. 1 with a matchup against the Czech Republic.

Kemba Walker helped lead Team USA past Spain in an exhibition game on Friday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Kemba Walker helped lead Team USA past Spain in an exhibition game on Friday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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