Team USA rusty, still tops Canada in Paris tune-up

Team USA rusty, still tops Canada in Paris tune-up

LAS VEGAS — The road to the Paris Olympics for USA Basketball has started with a win.

Anthony Edwards scored 13 points, Stephen Curry added 12 and the United States opened its tune-up schedule for the Paris Games by topping Canada 86-72 on Wednesday night.

Jrue Holiday scored 11 points and Anthony Davis finished with 10 for the U.S., which has four more exhibitions before getting to France.

RJ Barrett scored 12 points for Canada, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dillon Brooks each had 10.

Former president Barack Obama was at the game, as were many NBA coaches and dozens of USA Basketball dignitaries in town for the federation’s 50th anniversary celebration. Among them: Jerry Colangelo, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie, Teresa Edwards, Swin Cash, Lindsay Whalen and many more.

The total attendance was 20,757, a record for any game at T-Mobile Arena, USA Basketball said.

Cold start

The U.S. was down 11-1 midway through the first quarter, having missed its first six shot attempts. The rest of the half: U.S. 40, Canada 22, and the Americans shot 18-for-28 — 64.3% — in that span. The lead was 41-33 at the break and the Americans stretched it to 69-54 going into the fourth.

It was easy to see where the Americans, who have been together for less than a week, are still figuring things out; there were at least four occasions where simple passes ended up in the first row of seats because someone thought a zig was coming instead of a zag.

“Good first game for us,” U.S. coach Steve Kerr said. “We are just starting with four days of practice. You could see the rust on us offensively early. We had a lot of turnovers in the first half. I loved the defensive intensity, and the work on the glass. It was a good first effort on how we want to establish to play moving forward.”

Second unit

The second unit for the U.S. — Bam Adebayo, Tyrese Haliburton, Jayson Tatum, Davis and Edwards — was particularly impressive. Each of those five players had a plus-minus of plus-10 or better, meaning the U.S. outscored Canada by at least 10 points with them on the floor.

And that’s as it should be. Only the Americans can trot out a lineup of “bench players” at the Olympics, all of them being All-Stars. That fivesome has 21 combined All-Star nods, two NBA champions in Davis and Tatum and two perennial All-Defense players in Davis and Adebayo. It’s clearly not a typical second unit.

“They were great,” Kerr said of the second unit. “The slow start wasn’t surprising. I loved the second group and the defense picking up the pace for us in transition. They made a couple plays defensively that jump-started our offense that got us into the game.”

Oh, and remember: The U.S. didn’t have Kevin Durant (calf strain) and Derrick White (not yet with the team) available Wednesday.

For Starters

The first starting lineup of the summer rolled out by Kerr: Devin Booker, LeBron James, Joel Embiid, Curry and Holiday.

It certainly could change going forward. But if last year is any indication, it’s a clear view into Kerr’s thinking right now.

Kerr has cautioned in the past about not reading too much into lineups, especially from the first scrimmage. That said, the first five he had in the first exhibition game last summer going into the World Cup — Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Ingram and Edwards — were the starters in the tournament opener against New Zealand.

Next Up

The U.S. plays Australia in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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