Team USA closed out their exhibition series with an 83-76 win over Spain in Las Vegas - their final tune up ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
Damian Lillard led the way with 19 points and six assists, while Keldon Johnson added 15 points and Kevin Durant 14 as they finish with a 2-2 record through four games played.
Ricky Rubio was the leading scorer for Spain with 23 points.
Let's jump into the key takeaways at the buzzer.
Defence sparks offence
After giving up 90 points to Nigeria and 91 points to Australia, Team USA has tighened things up on the defensive end across their final two exhibition games.
They beat Argentina 108-80 and tonight held Spain to 76 points on 38.3 percent from the field and 27.6 percent from the 3-point line (8-of-29) tonight.
What a block by Keldon Johnson! 💪#USABMNT vs. Spain live on NBC Sports Network and https://t.co/HbtDcrFgfZ pic.twitter.com/ATMWd6Vzlw- NBA (@NBA) July 19, 2021
After a sluggish first half, they blew the game open in the third quarter, thanks to their defensive work, closing the period on a 21-8 run. A Damian Lillard 3-pointer gave them the lead and they ran away with it from there.
Dame for the lead 🎯 pic.twitter.com/D7bBN02Lpi- USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 19, 2021
"They've come a long way in a short period of time...they still have a long way to go...hopefully, we'll continue to improve during the week and be ready to play a very good French team."
Keldon Johnson shines
It's been a whirlwind week for the 21-year-old San Antonio Spurs youngster, who was elevated from the Select Team to the Olympic team following the withdrawal of Bradley Beal.
In 17 minutes against Spain, he showed exactly what he can bring at the Olympics with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, adding three rebounds, two steals and one block.
Dame finds Keldon Johnson for the STRONG SLAM! 💥#USABMNT leads 50-46 on NBC Sports Network & https://t.co/HbtDcrFgfZ pic.twitter.com/pAwRmZ5nW9- NBA (@NBA) July 19, 2021
He scored 10 points in the pivotal third quarter on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and was a team-high +18 on the night.
"Honestly, just being active, just being a spark," Johnson of his role on the team. "I'm out here to be that energy guy. In the third quarter, we needed a spark."
Keldon Johnson goes for 10 3rd quarter PTS on a perfect 5-5 shooting! #USABMNT in front 57-50... watch the 4th on NBC Sports Network & https://t.co/HbtDcrFgfZ pic.twitter.com/qzwV97ZQSa- NBA (@NBA) July 19, 2021
He was disruptive playing the passing lanes, guarding multiple positions,= and showed his energy and activity as an off-ball player, cutting hard to the basket and getting out in transition. With so many ball handlers on the team, he'll get plenty of rewards for running the floor like he did tonight.
"Keldon Johnson just played a really solid basketball game," head coach Gregg Popovich said postgame.
Rebounding a cause for concern?
With Bam Adebayo and Draymond Green as the team's big men, Team USA is giving up a lot of size in the paint and through four exhibitions they've been outrebounded in all but one game (vs. Argentina),
Against Spain, they lost the rebounding battle 42-29 with, Jayson Tatum (6) and Adebayo (5) leading the charge on the glass.
Bringing in JaVale McGee as a replacement for Kevin Love will certainly help in that regard, giving Team USA another big body who can fight on the glass.
Zach LaVine's highlight reel continues
The Chicago Bulls high-flyer has been putting on a show for Team USA during the exhibition series and tonight was no different.
He finished with 13 points of the night, most coming in the fourth quarter - including a couple more for the highlight reel.
Like we were saying... https://t.co/D47G4Adgj4 pic.twitter.com/GRjxAJaNkz- USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 19, 2021
International Ricky Rubio is so much fun
The best part of international basketball is seeing guys who morph from NBA role players into the go-to guy for their national team.
Rubio has been a mainstay of the Spanish National team for over a decade and with an ageing core, the 30-year-old will be the main man for Spain at the Olympics.
Check the two-man game with Marc Gasol.
📹 El MAGO 🧙♂️, como en París.- Baloncesto España (@BaloncestoESP) July 19, 2021
5️⃣ puntos ya para @rickyrubio9‼️
🏆 Gira preparación #Tokyo2020
Min. 6 (9-5)
📷 https://t.co/AKbvXDRZd5@iberia | #SomosEquipo pic.twitter.com/7UPoOYtvw9
He led all scorers on the night with 23 points on 6-of-13 from the field and 10-of-10 at the free throw line.
Team USA will now fly to Tokyo ahead of their opening game against France in the group stage on Sunday, July 25. They are also drawn alongside Iran and the Czech Republic in Group A.
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