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Team USA Sweeps Past Canada in First Men’s Basketball Preseason Game

Team USA kicked off its pre-Olympic tour with a comfortable 86-72 win over Canada in the USA basketball exhibition opener in Las Vegas on Thursday night.

Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards led the way for a veteran-heavy group that made 6 of 10 shots to lead the way in a balanced team effort. Stephen Curry added 12 points and LeBron James filled the stat sheet in the win (seven points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals).

While the final score may have been a relatively uneventful victory for the American side, the beginning of the game was quite the opposite. Canada jumped out to an 11-1 lead in the first four minutes of the first quarter, while Team USA, who had just started practice a few days earlier, looked disjointed. Even as the first quarter ended, the USA still trailed 21-14.

But the second unit, led by Edwards and Jayson Tatum, quickly got the Americans back on track. Team USA opened the second quarter on a 14-2 run and never relinquished the lead, relying on a stifling defense that forced 11 steals and held Canada to a poor 33.8 percent shooting percentage.

As is natural when a game this rich in talent is played, the highlights kept coming. Midway through the third quarter, with the U.S. firmly in control and trying to get within double digits, Curry and James got loose on a fast break. The two traded passes back and forth until Curry finally lobbed the ball up for James’ patented dunk.

The United States managed to get the job done relatively easily on Thursday, even without two key members of the original 12-man roster. Kawhi Leonard withdrew from the team earlier in the day, opting instead to stay healthy over the summer and prepare for another season with the Los Angeles Clippers. Phoenix Suns star Kevin Durant also missed the game with a right calf strain.

Team USA will return to action on Monday against Australia in an exhibition that continues in Abu Dhabi on August 15. The match is scheduled to kick off at 12:00 p.m. ET.