Spain hit the US square in the face in the first half of the first knockout round game for Team USA, pulling out to a 39-29 lead 3:19 into the second quarter.
But the US fought back and when Kevin Durant hit a three with 1:13 left in the second, he cut the lead to 39-31.
He followed that with a dunk following a Draymond Green steal, then Zach LaVine got one 30 seconds later to tie it with 0:11 left.
Spain would cut the lead back but never led again.
The US went up double digits when Devin Booker got a steal and basket to make the lead 58-47.
Spain cut it to 69-65 just into the fourth but that was the death rattle as the US pushed out ahead, ultimately putting together a 36-10 run.
Spain was bigger and stronger and outrebounded the US 30-23 overall and 12-9 on offensive boards, but the US forced 17 turnovers and took good care of the ball. Team USA also shut out three starters entirely and only three players for La Roja hit double figures and one of them, Ricky Rubio, had nearly half of Spain’s points with 38.
Rubio is a tremendous point guard and was a teen prodigy for Spanish basketball, but his lifetime average in the NBA is 11 ppg.
He’s a facilitator and that he had to score that much demonstrates how much of an issue Spain had with scoring. The only other guys to hit double figures were Sergio Rodriguez with 16 and Willie Hernangomez with 10.
Marc Gasol had zero. Pau Gasol had zero. Rudy Fernandez had zero. Those guys were truly great players but they’ve really aged out of international competition and this is likely their last go-round.
By the way, the US has now won three straight games by double figures.
Now Team USA moves on to play the winner of Australia vs. Argentina and if it’s the Boomers, that could be a very interesting game indeed.
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