August 18, 2019
LOS ANGELES: Donovan Mitchell scored 13 points to lead the United States to a 90-81 victory over Spain Friday (Saturday in Manila) in a basketball World Cup warm-up for both teams.
Khris Middleton added 12 points and Kemba Walker scored 11 with eight assists, six rebounds and two steals for the United States, who head to Australia on Saturday where they will play two friendlies against the Aussies and one against Canada before the World Cup starts in China on August 31.
Marc Gasol, who helped the Toronto Raptors to the NBA title last season after a mid-season trade from Memphis, led Spain with 19 points.
Ricky Rubio added 16 points, seven assists and five steals for Spain who had 11 points off the bench from Sergio Llull.
The win in Anaheim, California, came on the same day that Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker became the latest player ruled out of the US World Cup squad by injury.
Tucker, a 34-year-old veteran of five international seasons, suffered a left ankle sprain during practice.
His departure left 14 candidates for 12 spots on coach Gregg Popovich’s squad that will try to capture a third straight World Cup title.
Those forced out of consideration by injury included Kyle Lowry of the Raptors, who had hoped to recover from a left thumb injury in time to play but withdrew on Monday.
Other NBA stars — including LeBron James, James Harden, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard — opted out, preferring to prepare for the NBA season.
“Right now we’re just focusing on the guys who are here,” Walker said. “We’re working hard to get better each and every day. Tonight it showed.”
The United States, ranked number one in the world by international governing body FIBA, led second-ranked Spain by double digits for much of the second half.
Llull’s three-pointer with less than five minutes to play trimmed Spain’s deficit to eight points, but the United States responded with an 8-0 scoring run.
“We played really well against a really good team,” Walker said. “That was a good win for us.”
Houston’s Tucker leaves US NBA squad with ankle sprain
Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker is out of contention for the United States team of NBA players for the Basketball World Cup after suffering a left ankle sprain during practice.
The 34-year-old veteran of five international seasons, who played for Phoenix and Toronto before joining the Rockets in 2017, was hurt Thursday and will return to Houston for treatment and to prepare for the upcoming NBA season.
Tucker’s departure leaves 14 candidates for 12 spots on the US team that will try to capture a third consecutive title next month in China.
A final 12-player lineup for US coach Gregg Popovich’s squad is likely to be named before the Americans depart Los Angeles this weekend for Australia and pre-Cup exhibitions and workouts.
Remaining candidates include Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes, a member of the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medal squad, and Boston’s Kemba Walker, the only one of 11 US players on All-NBA teams this past season among the hopefuls.
Others are Boston’s Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum; Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton; Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox, Brooklyn’s Joe Harris, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, Indiana’s Myles Turner, Denver’s Mason Plumlee, San Antonio’s Derrick White and Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers.
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