LOS ANGELES: Kevin Durant scored 17 points as the United States bounced back from consecutive defeats to score a convincing 108-80 victory over Argentina in a pre-Olympic exhibition on Tuesday. Gregg Popovich’s US squad, the reigning Olympic champions, had been jolted by defeats to Nigeria and Australia in the opening two games of their Las Vegas training camp before heading to Tokyo for the Olympics next week.
But a more polished performance on Tuesday got US preparations firmly back on track, with Durant leading a slick offensive effort to take care of the Argentinians at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Durant was one of five US players to finish in double figures with the Brooklyn Nets star hauling down six rebounds.
Bradley Beal added 17 points while Zach LaVine chipped in with 15. Portland’s Damian Lillard added 13 points which included a trio of three-pointers. Bam Adebayo also impressed with 12 points from 18min 19sec on court. “We played with more intensity,” Adebayo said. “We really honed in on the defensive side and were really locked in. We were just playing basketball, reading off each (other) and making plays. That’s our gift.”
Popovich was pleased with signs that his team’s stamina had improved. “Against Australia we competed well, rebounded, played defense, ran the floor and had good pace for a half and then it dissipated for a half,” Popovich said. “Tonight, we maintained that pretty much throughout the game. Hopefully that’s a sign we’re getting better.”
Former NBA players Luis Scola led the scoring for Argentina, with the 41-year-old veteran finishing with 16 points. Nicolas Laprovittola added 13 points while Facundo Campazzo had 12. The United States face a rematch against Australia in their next warm-up game on Friday before completing their training camp with a sendoff game against Spain on Sunday. – AFP