Lillard, Johnson lead US to 83-76 exhibition win over Spain

Jul 18, 2021, 8:00 AM | Updated: 9:01 pm

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Two days after being added to the Olympic team, Keldon Johnson keyed a huge third-quarter run to help the U.S. beat Spain.

Damian Lillard scored 19 points and Johnson added 15 in an 83-76 victory Sunday night in the final pre-Olympic game for both teams before they head to Tokyo.

Johnson had been one of the young players training against the Americans, and had appeared in two exhibition games. The San Antonio forward/guard was added to the Olympic squad Friday after Bradley Beal tested positive for the coronavirus and Kevin Love withdrew because of a calf injury. The U.S. also added JaVale McGee, who didn’t play.

“Keldon Johnson played a really solid basketball game. made cuts to the bucket,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said. “When he did go to the bucket he was very physical. Very solid in half-court defense. He had a very, very good night.”

This was the U.S. team’s fourth exhibition in eight days in Las Vegas. The Americans were supposed to have a fifth against Australia on Friday, but that was canceled out of caution because of the coronavirus issues the Americans were dealing with.

The two top-ranked team in the world struggled early on with Spain missing its first six shots before finally getting a basket 4:35 into the game.

Despite the slow start the Spaniards led 18-14 after one. They extended the lead to 38-36 at the half. Lillard and Durant each had 11 points at the half. The two combined to go 7 for 16 from the field while the rest of the U.S. squad was 5 of 19. Ricky Rubio had 14 points at the half for Spain.

“The defense was pretty solid. we couldn’t make a shot, but they didn’t let up defensively,” Popovich said. “Kept their focus in that regard which will be important.”

Trailing 46-42 in the third quarter, the U.S. finally got going. The Americans scored the first 11 points during a 23-6 run that spanned the final two quarters. Johnson had eight points during the game-changing spurt. His dunk midway through the burst brought the crowd to life.

“I’m out here to be that energy guy, bring life to the team whenever you need it,” Johnson said. “The third quarter we needed a spark. not saying because I got a couple of buckets. On the defense end, trying to bring some kind of energy or spark so we can get over the hump.”

Spain only had one field goal in the final 5:44 of the quarter and was down 57-50 heading into the fourth quarter.

The U.S. kept the burst going to start the fourth and led 65-52 on Jayson Tatum’s reverse layup with 7:30 left. Spain could get no closer than eight the rest of the way.

Rubio finished with 23 points,

While the U.S. had struggled at times in Las Vegas, Rubio, who has played internationally for years, thinks they’ll figure it out.

“It’s the first time they are playing together, it takes time,” he said. “They are dangerous if they play as a team.”

BACK WITH THE TEAM

Jerami Grant returned to the U.S. squad after being in health and safety protocols since earlier this week “out of an abundance of caution”

UP NEXT:

Spain: The Spaniards open pool play against Japan on July 26.

U.S.: The Americans open up Olympic pool play against France next Sunday.

___

More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A member of the AlKuwari family shows the trophy after winning the first prize at the Mzayen World ...
Associated Press

Camel pageant among attractions on World Cup sidelines

ASH-SHHANIYA, Qatar (AP) — Like all good pageant contestants, Nazaa’a displayed not only dazzling beauty but also poise and grace. She batted her eyelashes and flashed a toothy smile for the television cameras at the Mzayen World Cup, a pageant held in the Qatari desert about 15 miles (25 kilometers) away from Doha and soccer’s […]
1 day ago
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson throws a pass during an NFL football practice at the te...
Associated Press

Watson has better shot winning with Browns than fixing image

Deshaun Watson has a better chance of leading the Cleveland Browns to their first Super Bowl title than rebuilding his public image. The disgraced quarterback wouldn’t address his 11-game suspension for sexual misconduct or his league-mandated therapy sessions on Thursday in his first comments since returning to the Browns. “I have been advised to stay […]
1 day ago
Japan's Kaoru Mitoma appears to have the ball over the line before crossing it for a goal during th...
Associated Press

AP photo catches key moment before Japan’s World Cup goal

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — From most angles, it looked like the ball went out of play just before Japan scored its winning goal in the 2-1 victory against Spain in the World Cup. Associated Press photographer Petr David Josek took a photo from above that appears to support the referee’s decision to allow it. Josek’s […]
1 day ago
Belgium's Leandro Trossard, left, and Croatia's Josko Gvardiol fight for the ball during the World ...
Associated Press

‘Little Pep’ Gvardiol coming up big for Croatia at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — For 90 minutes, the hulking, masked mass that is Josko Gvardiol kept Belgium’s big-name strikers at bay with timely tackles — none bigger than his stop on Romelu Lukaku two minutes into stoppage time. Then the 20-year-old Croat who is fast becoming the most sought-after center back in Europe went over […]
1 day ago
Christian Pulisic of the United States attends a press conference before a training session at Al-G...
Associated Press

US star Pulisic on track to play against Dutch in World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Christian Pulisic is on track to play for the United States in its World Cup round of 16 match against the Netherlands on Saturday, Pulisic left Tuesday’s final group stage match against Iran at halftime after bruising his pelvic bone in a collision with the goalkeeper while scoring in the 38th […]
1 day ago
Spain players leave the pitch at the end of the World Cup group E soccer match between Japan and Sp...
Associated Press

Spain in recovery mode after losing to Japan at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — It’s not how Spain imagined reaching the knockout phase of the World Cup: finishing the group stage with a loss and having to rely on other teams to help it advance. Spain survived but heads into the round of 16 against Morocco with bruised confidence after losing 2-1 to Japan. “We […]
1 day ago
Lillard, Johnson lead US to 83-76 exhibition win over Spain