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Team USA Cruises Past Canada in First Men’s Basketball Exhibition Game

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Team USA Cruises Past Canada in First Men’s Basketball Exhibition Game

Team USA kicked off its pre-Olympic tour Thursday night in Las Vegas with a comfortable 86–72 victory over Canada in the USA basketball showcase opener.

Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards led the way for the veteran-heavy group, pouring in 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting to pioneer a balanced team effort. Stephen Curry added 12 points and LeBron James filled up the stat sheet (seven points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals) in the win.

Though the final score may have indicated a rather uneventful win for the American side, the start of the game was quite the opposite. Canada raced out to an 11–1 lead in the opening four minutes of the first quarter as Team USA, which just began practice a few days ago, appeared disjointed. Even by the time the first quarter came to an end, the U.S. still trailed 21–14.

However, the second unit—led by Edwards and Jayson Tatum—quickly got the Americans back on track. Team USA opened the second quarter on a 14–2 run and never relinquished the lead again, relying on a stifling defense that forced 11 steals and held Canada to a measly 33.8% shooting night.

As is natural when featuring a game so rich with talent, the highlights kept on coming. Midway through the third quarter, with the U.S. firmly in control and looking to go up double digits, Curry and James burst free on a fastbreak. The pair traded passes back-and-forth until Curry eventually lobbed the ball up top for a patented James slam.

The U.S. managed to get the job done with relative ease on Thursday even without the presence of two key members of the original 12-man roster. Kawhi Leonard withdrew from the team earlier in the day, opting to instead maintain his health throughout the summer and prepare for another season with the Los Angeles Clippers. Phoenix Suns star Kevin Durant was also unavailable to play due to a right calf strain.

Team USA will return to action Monday against Australia when the showcase continues in Abu Dhabi on Aug. 15. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m. ET.

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