FIBA World Cup: Harrison Barnes scored 14 points in Team USA’s first-round win

Team USA started its bid to defend the FIBA World Cup title on Sunday, defeating the Czech Republic 88-67 in its first game of the group phase.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker helped lead the Americans. Mitchell scored a team-high 16 points and shot 63.6% from the floor. Walker scored 13 points and led the team with four assists.

Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes, who won an NBA championship with the Golden State Warriors in 2015, contributed 14 points on 62.5% shooting from the floor.

With Team USA coach Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) and assistant coach Steve Kerr (Warriors) leading this team, it’s no surprise the Americans eventually had more movement on offense despite starting slow on the offensive end.

Popovich’s and Kerr’s offenses are typically predicated on ball and player movement, and the fourth quarter was Team USA’s best quarter on the offensive end. The Americans moved the ball quicker and found spots on the floor where they could attack best.

The Americans went on an 11-2 run in the fourth quarter, made four 3-pointers in the final period and finished the game shooting 49.3% from the field and 38.4% from the three-point line.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton was one of the Americans’ best players off the bench. He scored eight points, including two 3-pointers. Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris also played well off the bench, scoring nine points, including two made shots from beyond the arc.

Though Team USA started slow on offense, credit the Czech Republic’s defense, particularly in the middle of the floor. The Americans sometimes had to drive through crowded driving lanes, and they didn’t always have clean looks at the hoop.

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum helped Team USA flourish on offense in the first half. He benefited from the Americans having better spacing in the second quarter. Once he made a couple threes, he attacked defenders well and got good shots in the lane. Tatum finished with 10 points and made two shots from deep.

Team USA plays its next game in the group phase on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 8:30 a.m. ET — against Turkey.

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