BOSTON (CBS) — Jayson Tatum was back in action Sunday night, helping Team USA pick up an exhibition win over Spain before the team heads off to the Tokyo Olympics.
Tatum was one of seven players available for Team USA, returning to the floor after missing Monday’s win over Argentina with right knee soreness. The Celtics forward once again struggled with his shot, going just 3-for-10 from the floor and 0-for-4 from three-point range, but he made a big impact in just about every other area in the 83-76 victory.READ MORE: Nor'easter To Bring Heavy Rain, High Winds, Possible Flooding And Potentially Days Of Power Outages
Back in the starting five for the U.S., Tatum missed six of his first seven shots and finished with just six points. But just because his shot was off didn’t mean that Tatum wasn’t a contributor in the win. He turned in a team-high six rebounds and five assists, and also played some strong defense during his 29 minutes on the floor, chipping in with a block and a steal.
Team USA got all the offense it needed from Damian Lillard, who led the squad with 19 points, while newcomer Keldon Johnson added 15. Kevin Durant had 14 points and Zach LaVine tallied 13 to help Team USA ship off to Tokyo on a positive note.READ MORE: Mass. Probation Department Under Scrutiny Again After Employees Report Structural Racism, Discrimination
They finished 2-2 in exhibition play in Las Vegas, which is a disappointing outcome for some of the NBA’s brightest stars. They’ll be joined by reinforcements in Japan in Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday as soon as the NBA Finals conclude, but until then, Tatum said that Team USA needs lean heavily on its athleticism now that the games count.
“I think we’ve got to use our athleticism and our speed to our advantage. On the defensive end, get stops, and we got to go,” he said after Sunday’s win. “We got to push it. You got so many guys that can bring the ball up, make plays, make shots. This is not our normal NBA team, so we got to do things we’re not used to doing.”MORE NEWS: Woman Hit, Killed By School Bus In Mattapan Remembered As 'All-Around Good Person'
Team USA begins pool play in Tokyo against France on July 25th. That game is set to tip off at 8 a.m. ET.