After falling to Nigeria and Australia in ther opening exhibition games, Team USA got on the board with a 108-80 win voer Argentina in Las Vega.
Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal powered the offence with 17 points apiece, while Zach LaVine added 15 as the American avoided what would have been their first three-game losing streak since professional players joined the international stage.
Let's jump into the eky takeaways at the buzzer:
USA gets off to a fast start
Zach LaVine entered the starting lineup in place of Jayson Tatum, joining Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant and Bam Adebayo.
The USA first five provided the bulk of the offence on the night, comining for 74 of their 108 points, playing extended minutes as Beal clocked nearly 30, Lillard 26 and LaVine and Durant 24 each.
After slow starts against Nigeria and Australia, Team USA got into their sets early tonight, taking a 15-4 lead within the first three-and-a-half minutes and as many as 17 in the quarter.
They knocked down six 3-pointers in the period to take a 33-19 lead at the end of the first quarter.
After leading 56-42 at the half, they put their foot on the gas, extending the lead to as many as 25 in the quarter and they never looked back.
"It was better," USA head coach Gregg Popovich said. "Bit by bit, every day, I hope."
A much improved effort on both ends, with their effort and athleticism giving them the edge, especially in transition defence as they stifled Argentina all night, holding them to 38.4 percent shooting and 31.0 percent from the 3-point line (9-of-29).
In their first two games, Team USA struggled to find their rhythm on offence, often settling for isolation plays and jumpshots, but against Argentina, they looked more comfortable getting buckets in the flow of the offence.
They recorded 27 assists on 37 made field goals, with seven different players recording at least three dimes, while Bam Adebayo led the team with five.
Their crisp ball movement generated a ton of easier looks throughout the contest as they connected on 13-of-29 from beyond the arc.
"Our biggest thing is we have to realise it's not the NBA and Coach Pop keeps re-emphasising 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."
Air LaVine takes off
Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine produced a pair of highligh-reel dunks against Argentina!
In the second quarter, he finished this double-clutch two-handed jam off the Kevin Durant feed.
ZACH LAVINE OH MY 🤯- USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 13, 2021
💻 https://t.co/fcUSsaVvGe pic.twitter.com/9tc8SNCc6M
He saved his best for last. In the fourth quarter, he crammed home an emphatic poster of Pablo Vaulet.
FIRE US UP @ZachLaVine 🔥 pic.twitter.com/KAOj8RHYqm- USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 13, 2021
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum was rested for tonight's game due to right knee soreness.
He played in their opening two games, but given tonight's game was a back-to-back, he was held out as a precaution and is considered day-to-day going forward.
Team USA will face off against the Australian Boomers on Friday night.
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