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Despite sluggish shooting night, Team USA rolls to win

Americans have one more game to work out kinks before Olympics

POSTED: Jul 30, 2016 2:16 AM ET

By Steve Aschburner

BY Steve Aschburner


Team USA 80, Venezuela 45

Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson score 13 points each in the U.S. exhibition win.

— A miserable shooting night by both teams kept highlights to a minimum, but the USA Basketball men's national team beat Venezuela 80-45 Friday night at United Center.

A sellout crowd eager to see both the Chicago Bulls' Olympic representative, Jimmy Butler, and newest acquisition, Dwyane Wade -- watching from the front row after his Bulls introductory news conference earlier in the day -- did most of its noise-making during introductions.

At least, that's how it went until DeAndre Jordan's alley-oop throwdown of a pass from Kevin Durant gave them something to roar about, putting Team USA up 62-37 with 6:47 left. Then Butler threw one down with 1:47 left to satisfy the locals.

Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson scored 13 points each for Team USA.

Heading into that final quarter, though, the teams had combined to shoot 29-of-104 (27.9 percent). The Venezuela team was pesky enough defensively to disrupt Team USA's offense, which had purred along shooting 49.8 percent in its first three tuneups.

The Americans won those games -- the opener against Argentina, followed by two against China -- by an average of 45.3 points, outrebounding those opponents by an average of 21.0. By halftime Friday, they were on pace in both those categories -- leading by 18, with a 37-12 edge on the boards -- but their scoring was way down due to abysmal shooting.

Their 36 points through two quarters came the hard way: 12-of-40 on field-goal attempts, including 2-of-18 on 3-pointers. The NBA stars even missed six of their 16 free throws.

The Venezuelans hung tough deep into the first quarter, trailing 13-12, before USA ran off the game's next 12 points across the quarter break. Venezuela's John Cox, who led all scorers with 12 points in the half, got his crew as close as 28-18 before Team USA closed the half with eight unanswered points.

Irving was the lone U.S. player in double digits with 11 points in the half. Venezuela was unable to take advantage of the host's poor shooting because its aim was even worse -- 7-of-32 (21.9 percent) through the first 20 minutes.

Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers' point guard, still held that distinction after three quarters, as USA extended its lead to 56-31.

Team USA will play its final exhibition Monday in Houston before heading to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Its Olympic schedule starts Aug. 6 with yet another meeting with the Chinese national team.

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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