Things are getting heated for Team USA.
Head coach Gregg Popovich had a tense exchange with Joe Vardon of The Athletic after a second embarrassing exhibition loss in three days, this time to Australia.
“You asked the same sort of question last time where you assumed things that are not true. ” Popovich said before Vardon interjected. “Can I finish? Can I finish my statement? Are you going to let me finish my statement or not?
“When you make statements about, in the past, just blowing out these other teams – number one, you give no respect to the other teams. I talked to you the last time about the same thing, we’ve had very close games against four of five countries in all these tournaments.”
Popovich, 72, has had similar run-ins with the press in his 25-year run as Spurs coach. He has been short with reporters during in-game interviews and gotten testy with the media after games.
Popovich does not have long to figure out how to get this uber-talented squad, which has now lost to Nigeria (90-87) and Australia (91-83), to gel.
Against the Aussies, Damian Lillard scored 22 for Team USA behind a 6-of-11 performance from behind the arc, Kevin Durant added 17 points and Bradley Beal put up 12 points. Those were the only three players for Popovich’s club that scored in double figures. Jayson Tatum missed all six of his three-point attempts in a 4-of-12 night.
Patty Mills led the way for Australia with 22 points, while Joe Ingles chipped in with 17. Matisse Thybulle and Chris Goulding scored a combined 23 points off the bench, and the team shot nearly 53 percent.
“So, the good teams do not get blown out. There are certain games that might happen in one of these tournaments like the World Championships or the Olympics where somebody gets blown out but in general, nobody is blowing anybody out for the good teams,” Popovich said to Vardon. “So when you make a statement like that, you assume that’s what’s going on. And, that’s incorrect.”
Since they started using professionals in 1992, this is the first time Team USA has lost back-to-back exhibition games.
The US team will take on Argentina on Tuesday night to try and break their losing streak.