U.S. tops Canada in Olympic men’s basketball exhibition | CBC Sports

U.S. tops Canada in Olympic men’s basketball exhibition | CBC Sports

For USA Basketball, the road to the Paris Olympics has started with a win.

Anthony Davis 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 in Las Vegas.

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.

The seventh-ranked Canadians last saw the top-ranked Americans in the bronze-medal game at the FIBA World Cup in September, when Canada came out on top to win its first-ever medal at the event.

President Barack Obama was at Wednesday night’s 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.

“It’s always a treat when you get to talk to one of the greatest people this world has ever seen, in my opinion,” American star LeBron James said of Obama. “His vision, his mindset, his words are always resonating, in more ways than one. To be able to sit down with a former president, a friend of mine that I really call a dear friend, it’s pretty awesome.”

WATCH | Canadian men’s basketball team falls to U.S. in pre-Olympic exhibition game:

Canadian men’s basketball team falls to U.S. in pre-Olympic exhibition game

Canada’s men’s Olympic basketball team loses to the United States 86-72 in their first tune-up for Paris 2024. The Canadian squad will also face France and Puerto Rico before the start of the Paris Olympics.

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 per cent — in that span. The lead was 41-33 at the break and the Americans stretched it to 69-54 going into the fourth.

“Just having fun,” Curry said. “Got to the basket and I slid across. I was trying to get back up, but I got stuck so I just wanted to pose and give myself a second. You know I like to have fun and enjoy myself and it didn’t take long for me to find an opportunity tonight.”

It was easy to see where the Americans, who have been together for less than a week, still are 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.

“We needed to set a tone for how we want to play,” U.S. coach Steve Kerr said. “And I think we did that.”

The second unit for the U.S. — Anthony Davis, Bam Adebayo, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton and Jayson Tatum — 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.

WATCH | Canada’s men’s basketball on hunt for gold at Paris Games:

‘We’re trying to win the gold medal’: Canadian men’s basketball team on Olympic expectations

The Canadian men’s basketball team have their eyes set on gold, after ending a 24-year Olympic drought.

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.

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

A men's basketball player is shown in mid-air while three other players watch.
LeBron James of the United States, left, dunks ahead of Dillon Brooks (24) and RJ Barrett (9) of Canada off of an alley-oop pass from Stephen Curry (4) in the second half of their exhibition game on Wednesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. The United States defeated Canada 86-72. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The first starting lineup of the summer rolled out by U.S. coach Steve Kerr: Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, Devin Booker, LeBron James and Joel Embiid.

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 Anthony Edwards — were the starters in the tournament opener against New Zealand.

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