Led by Kemba Walker‘s game-high 23 points, Team USA held off Australia 102-86 before 51,218 people Thursday, the largest crowd to ever watch a basketball game Down Under.
Myles Turner added 15 points and 14 rebounds for the U.S., which pulled away in the second half.
Patty Mills and Chris Goulding each scored 19 for Australia, and head coach Gregg Popovich said it was good for the Americans to get tested early in the lead up to the World Cup that starts next week in China.
Per The AP:
“We have guys that are just starting to play with each other,” said U.S. guard Donovan Mitchell, who had 13 points. “We got off to a little bit of a rough start in the first half, but the third quarter, we really picked it up defensively.”
Walker was one the keys for the second-half resurgence for the Americans, scoring 21 of his 23 points after halftime.
“I’m one of the leaders of this team, so it’s important for me to set that tone,” the Celtics guard said.
Adversity struck, and the U.S. answered.
“One of our big mantras has been ‘composure and poise,’” Popovich said. “Things are going to go the other way in some games. And the way you respond to that is really the measure of how you’re going to do.”