USA were not going to lose this game.
Team USA burst out the gate starting with a Donovan Mitchell 5-0 run, and three offensive rebounds.
Both teams played strong physical defence with USA opting for the full court press to begin with. Myles Turner started off very well, especially considering his poor showing in the previous game against the Boomers in Melbourne. Turner dominated the paint with rebounds blocks and tip ins, a theme throughout the game.
Jaylen Brown also impressed going on his own 5 run playing hard in the lane (again another theme throughout the game). Then Kemba finishes the quarter with a near impossible layup and one, to finish the quarter with an 11 point lead. Team USA were cruising.
Meanwhile Canada struggled. Badly.
Khem Birch was 1-4 in the paint, with only Pangos and Andrew Nembhard being able to create their own shots and making an impact. For Canada, the shots would just not fall, and Canada scored a miserly 9 points for the quarter. It was dismal.
Canada started the second quarter cold again, while Myles Turner continued to make his presence felt in the paint.
Canada managed to cut the lead to five midway through the quarter, behind Phil Scrubb and Kye Wiltjer, who finally started to knock down shots BUT this quarter belonged to Jaylen Brown (until the final play…) who impressed with 13 points to lead all scorers at the half.
Team USA finished the quarter strong with a 16-1 run, with the final play being the game highlight: A big steal by Marcus Smart, leading to a HUGE alley-oop jam from Khris Middleton to Donovan Mitchell.
Even with Team USA shooting 25% from deep, Canada’s 27% shooting in the first half ensured that Team USA had a solid lead heading into the half.
The second half started terribly for both teams with no points scored in nearly the first two minuted. Then Khem Birch finally got some shots to fall, leading Canada with 11 points in the second half. Even with Canada’s control of the game during the start of the second half, they just couldn’t cut into the USA lead and USA just kept on getting buckets including a huge windmill by Jason Tatum and an efficient night from Brown.
The most surprising part of the third quarter was the Brook Lopez fandom. When Lopez came to the floor and got a tip in, the crowd went nuts. A block by Lopez led to another huge cry by the crowd, turns out in Australia: Brook Lopez is our guy and it didn’t stop in the Third Quarter.
In the Third, Wilkjer tried to keep Canada in the game but the USA kept extending the lead, finishing the third quarter up by 17.
In the Fourth, Canada continued to struggled finishing the game with 32% from the field and 22% from three.
Team USA closed out the game strong, with Derrick White and Marcus Smart showing their hussle and every player getting decent minutes, with only Khris Middleton perhaps wanting to forget this night after finishing 0-7.
As I said before, the Brook Lopez Fandom was far from over. During the final quarter, when Brook came onto the court (keep in mind he didn’t play in the first half), the crowd went insane with chants of MVP. When taken off the court, the crowd booed and started “we want Lopez” chants. It was absolutely bizarre. When asked if he knew why Australia loved him so much, all he could say was: “I honestly don’t know”.
Regardless of the weird Lopez obsession, Team USA cruised in this game winning 84-68 and finished the international series strong as both teams head to China for the FIBA world cup starting on the 31st of August.
Players of the game:
Team USA: Myles Turner was huge on defence and off the glass with 15 rebounds (five offensive) and Jaylen Brown was efficient and aggressive leading all scorers with 19 Brown.
Canada Basketball: Kyle Wilkjer was the best on the floor for Canada shooting 8-13, with Khem Birch the only other player hitting double digit points.