After two relatively-easy wins against China and Venezuela in opening-round play at the Rio Olympics, Team USA got their first real challenge against an Australian squad that’s looked like one of the better teams in the tournament up to that point.
Like the first two contests, the Americans got off to a terrible start and were all knotted up with the Boomers at 29-29 after the first quarter. It didn’t get any easier from there as they trailed 54-49 at the half. The U.S. made a few runs, but were never able to effectively pull away until late in the fourth quarter. It was a game that came all the way down to the wire, but USA ultimately escaped with a 98-88 win.
Kyrie Irving scored 12 of his 19 points in the final period to keep the U.S. afloat, while Carmelo Anthony carried the majority of the load with 31 points, including 9-of-15 from downtown, once again making history in the process.
The Americans struggled from the floor all night, making just 34 of their 86 attempts and having just three players — Kevin Durant, 12 points, being the other — to score in double figures.
Patty Mills was spectacular for Australia, pouring in 30 points on 50 percent from the field, including 5-of-11 from behind the arc, while Andrew Bogut added 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Matthew Dellevedova was his usual pesky self on defense and added 11 assists on the other end.
It was a wake-up call for the United States, whose lethargic play nearly came back to bite them on Wednesday. They continue with group play on Friday against Serbia.