2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup

Clutch free throws lift Team USA to overtime win over Turkey

Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton help save day at stripe

SHANGHAI — The United States Men’s National Team got a major scare on Tuesday, but escaped with a 93-92 overtime win over Turkey in its second game at the FIBA World Cup.

The U.S. trailed by two in the final seconds of regulation and by one in the final seconds of overtime. But it survived thanks to a pair of Jayson Tatum free throws to send the game to overtime and a pair of Khris Middleton free throws for the win.

The U.S. opened up a 15-point lead midway through the second quarter, but Turkey responded with a 12-0 run to get back in the game. It stayed close and was tied midway through the fourth. Turkey had multiple chances to take the lead and finally did so with an Ersan Ilyasova tip-in over Joe Harris with 12.3 seconds to go.

After Middleton missed an open 3 from the right wing, Donovan Mitchell got his hand on the rebound. Kemba Walker saved the ball back to Mitchell, who found Tatum at the top of the key. He pump-faked one defender out of the play and was fouled by Cedi Osman on a pull-up 3 just before the buzzer.

The referees reviewed the play and gave Tatum three free throws with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. He made the first, missed the second, and made the third to give the U.S. a chance in overtime.

Down one with 14.6 seconds left in OT, the U.S. inbounded the ball to Myles Turner, who couldn’t find an open man and was stripped. Joe Harris then committed an unsportsmanlike foul (not going for the ball), giving Turkey two free throws and the ball. That could have shut the door, but Dogus Balbay and Osman proceeded to go 0-for-4 at the line.

Tatum rebounded the final miss in traffic, drove down the floor and found Middleton cutting down the left side of the lane. He was fouled by Turkey’s Bugrahan Tuncer and converted both free throws with 2.1 seconds left. During the fast break, Tatum sprained his left ankle. He will be re-evaluated on Wednesday.

Turkey advanced the ball after Middleton’s made free throws, but Ilyasova missed a step-back three for the win.

The Americans struggled to find good shots against Turkey’s 2-3 zone, scoring just 40 points on their final 46 possessions of regulation. They shot just 35 percent from the field and had twice as many turnovers (14) as they had in their win over the Czech Republic on Sunday.

Middleton led the U.S. with 15 points. Kemba Walker added 14, including five straight in overtime that erased a five-point Turkey lead. Ilyasova led Turkey with 23 points and 14 rebounds.

With the win, the U.S. has qualified for the second round of the World Cup. The winner of the game between Turkey and the Czech Republic on Thursday will be the second team to advance out of Group E. The Americans will close out Group E play with a game against Japan on Thursday.

The U.S. has a 55-game winning streak in (non-exhibition) games with a roster made up entirely of NBA players, going back to the bronze-medal game of the 2006 World Championship.

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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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