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USA men’s basketball team ends two-game losing streak by beating Argentina

USA men’s basketball team ends two-game losing streak by beating Argentina in Olympic tuneup and makes it look easy again.  Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal each score 17 points and Americans take control, beating Argentina by 108-80, in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Zach LaVine scored 15 points for the United States, which lost its first two games in Las Vegas to Nigeria and Australia. The Americans shot 51 percent, scored 33 first-quarter points to get off and running, and beat Argentina for the 10th consecutive time since a loss at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

“It was better,” US coach Gregg Popovich said. “Bit by bit, every day, I hope.”

Damian Lillard scored 13 points and Bam Adebayo finished with 12 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds for Team USA.

“Just really locked in,” Adebayo said.

The United States won the rebound battle, 40-34, committed only nine turnovers and held Argentina to 31 percent shooting (9 for 29) from 3-point range.

“Today we got better,” Beal said. “Still a lot we can improve on, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

The US squad played with only eight members of the Olympic team. Jayson Tatum was held out with right knee soreness and will be day-to-day going forward, USA Basketball said. The Americans also will be without Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and Devin Booker until at least this weekend because of the NBA Finals.

Luis Scola, set to play in the Olympics for a fifth time, scored 16 points in 19 minutes for Argentina. Nicolas Laprovittola scored 13, Facundo Campazzo had 12, and Gabriel Deck added 10.

“It’s not a big deal,” Argentina’s Luca Vildoza said. “It’s only a loss.”

Campazzo was shaken up late in the first quarter after taking a hard screen, but was able to eventually return to the game.

Argentina went 0-3 in Las Vegas, losing, 87-84, in its opener against Australia on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Patty Mills and then falling, 94-71, to Nigeria on Monday.

The back-to-back losses to start Team USA’s stay in Las Vegas raised the possibility that the Americans might lose three in a row with NBA players for the first time.

If those thoughts truly existed, they didn’t last for long.

“Our biggest thing is we have to realize it’s not the NBA and Coach Pop keeps re-emphasizing that every single day,” Beal said. “It’s way more physical. Guys are smarter. These guys have been playing together for five-, 10-plus years. So they have the experience and the chemistry and we’re trying to develop that in a short period of time.”

It was 15-4 USA before the game was even 3½ minutes old, the lead was as much as 17 later in the opening quarter — the biggest leads for the Americans in the first two games were 10 against Nigeria and 11 against Australia — and the outcome was never really in doubt.

John Bay
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