US bounce back from shock Australia loss to beat Canada
Boston’s Jaylen Brown drained 19 points as the United States bounced back from a shock loss to Australia by thumping Canada 84-68 to get their World Cup campaign back on track Monday.
Gregg Popovich’s reigning Olympic and world champions were left reeling after their run of 78 consecutive wins in major competitions and exhibition games was snapped by the Boomers in Melbourne on Saturday.
The response in Sydney from the young squad — which is missing a host of high-profile NBA stars — was emphatic with Donovan Mitchell and Myles Turner both chipping in with 12 points.
Kyle Wiltjer led Canada with 21 points while Orlando’s Khem Birch bagged 13.
Popovich again tinkered with his line-up, opting for Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes and Boston’s Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum to join Utah’s Mitchell and Indiana’s Turner — the only two players to start all three World Cup warm-up games in Australia.
Turner said they had worked hard to tighten up their defence.
“The last game for us (98-94 loss to Australia) was a wake-up call. We took that to heart and we came out here tonight and performed,” he said.
Mitchell sank five early points as the USA quickly seized control and they took a 20-9 lead into the second quarter with Canada suffering shooting woes.
The USA also struggled to make baskets, stretching their advantage to 46-31 at half-time but shooting at just 48 percent.
They got better and by the three-quarter mark were 17 points clear before holding on for a comfortable win, although only a 14 percent success rate on three-pointers will be of concern.
The Canadians, ranked 23 in the world, are taking an inexperienced squad to China, with just Birch having significant NBA experience after Miami Heat’s Kelly Olynyk pulled out.
Coach Nick Nurse, who also coaches the Toronto Raptors, is reportedly still hopeful Sacramento Kings point guard Cory Joseph will be joining them later this week.
“We got a lot of work to do, need to execute better and get ready for the World Cup,” Birch said, adding that he remained confident Canada could win a medal in China.
They head to the World Cup on the back of seven warm-ups, splitting a pair of games against both Australia and Nigeria, before two wins over New Zealand and the defeat to USA.
Canada open their World Cup on September 1 against Australia with the USA, who went 3-1 in their pre-tournament warm-ups, facing the Czech Republic on the same day.