After a slow start Thursday, the U.S. Men’s National Team stayed perfect in its exhibition play with a 102-86 win against Australia. Although there was fairly balanced scoring for Team USA, the win was fueled in large part by the play of starting guards Kemba Walker and Donovan Mitchell. The duo sizzled in the second half of the game, with each finishing with double-figure scoring.
* Box score: USA vs. Australia
Walker led all scorers with 23 points, many of which came in the second half. Mitchell had 13 points, while Kyle Kuzma and Jayson Tatum added 12 and 11 points, respectively, off the bench. Team USA also got a big performance in the frontcourt as starting center Myles Turner finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
The USA jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the game, and at the first timeout with 4:32 on the clock, Australia was just 3-of-11 from the field. The Boomers heated up, however, and finished the quarter shooting 40.0% (8-20 FGs) to trail the USA 22-20. Kuzma, a Los Angeles Lakers standout, was 3-of-4 from 3-point in the first quarter for nine points.
Australia went ahead 25-22 to start the second period, but Walker tied the game with a three-point play and then pulled up for a jumper to put the USA up 27-25. After points from Mitchell — the Utah Jazz’s top player — Australia called a timeout at 7:21, but it did not slow the USA. It took a 39-28 lead at 5:04, when Australia again called for a break.
Two 3s and a three-point play from Mills over the remaining minutes of the first half, however, helped Australia cut it to 44-43 at halftime. Mills had 13 points at the midway point; while for the USA Turner already had grabbed nine rebounds to help the USA take a 30-21 advantage on the boards.
Australia took its second lead of the game, 45-44, to start the second half, but it was short lived. Turner scored to kick off a 13-0 run and return the USA to the lead, 57-45. The USA pushed its lead to as many as 14 points twice in the quarter and then to 15, 76-61, headed into the final 10 minutes.
The USA went on to outscore Australia 26-25 in the fourth to earn the win. Australia was led by Mills (19 points) and Chris Goulding (19 points).
The USA next will meet Australia in a second matchup on Aug. 24 at 2 p.m. in Melbourne (12 a.m. ET, NBA TV), and then will wrap up exhibition play against Canada at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney at 7:30 p.m. local time (5:30 a.m. ET, NBA TV).
Team USA is closing in on its play in the FIBA World Cup, which begins on Sept. 1 in China. USA and Australia played this morning in the first of two exhibition games in Melbourne. A record Australian basketball crowd of 50,000-plus fans was forecast for the match at Marvel Stadium.