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Team USA beats Canada in warm-up match to kick off Olympic preparations

LAS VEGAS — Team USA Basketball’s journey to the Paris Olympics began with a win.

Anthony Edwards scored 13 points, Stephen Curry had 12 and the United States kicked off its preparations for the Paris Games with an 86-72 win over Canada on Wednesday night.

With the United States set to play four more friendly matches before heading to France, Jrue Holiday scored 11 points and Anthony Davis scored 10 points.

RJ Barrett scored 12 points for Canada, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dillon Brooks each had 10 points.

Former President Barack Obama was at the game, as were a host of NBA coaches and dozens of USA Basketball dignitaries in town for the federation’s 50th anniversary celebration. Among them were Jerry Colangelo, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie, Teresa Edwards, Swin Cash, Lindsay Whalen and more.

The United States Basketball Association announced that total attendance for games at T-Mobile Arena broke a record with 20,757 people.

Cold start

The U.S. missed its first six field goals to trail 11-1 midway through the first quarter. The U.S. had 40 shots, Canada 22, and the Americans had shot 18 of 28 in the period — 64.3 percent — at halftime. The lead was 41-33 at halftime and the Americans entered the fourth quarter with a 69-54 lead.

It was easy to see that the Americans, who had been together less than a week, were still trying to figure out what they were doing; on at least four occasions, one of them was seen falling into the first row of seats with simple passes thinking they were zig-zagging instead of zig-zag.

“It was a good first game for us,” USA coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re just getting started with four days of practice. You could see the rust early on offense. We had a lot of turnovers in the first half. I liked the defensive intensity and the work on the glass. It was a good first effort on how we want to play going forward.”

Second unit

The U.S. second unit — Bam Adebayo, Tyrese Haliburton, Jayson Tatum, Davis and Edwards — was particularly impressive. Each of those five players had a plus-minus of plus-10 or better, meaning the U.S. outscored Canada by at least 10 points whenever they were on the floor.

And that’s how it should be. Only the Americans can field a roster of “bench players” at the Olympics, all of whom are All-Stars. That quintet has a combined 21 All-Star nominations, two NBA champions in Davis and Tatum, and two perennial All-Defense players in Davis and Adebayo. Clearly not your typical second unit.

“They were great,” Kerr said of the second unit. “The slow start wasn’t surprising. I liked the second unit and how the defense pushed the tempo for us in transition. They made a couple of defensive plays that got our offense going and got us in the game.”

Meanwhile, don’t forget: In the USA, Kevin Durant (calf strain) and Derrick White (not yet on the team) will not be able to play on Wednesday.

For beginners

Kerr’s starting five for the summer are Devin Booker, LeBron James, Joel Embiid, Curry and Holiday.

That could certainly change in the future, but if the past year is any indication, it’s a clear perspective on Kerr’s current thinking.

Kerr has warned in the past against putting too much stock in lineups, especially from the first practice. However, heading into last summer’s World Cup, his first five starters from the first warm-up match — Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Ingram and Edwards — were all starters in the tournament opener against New Zealand.


The USA will face Australia in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.