Team USA lost in stunning fashion to France in the preliminary round of the Olympics Men’s Basketball tournament. Evan Fournier showed up big for France, leading the way with 28 points.
France Shocks Team USA: Olympics Preliminary Round
The United States started strong in the opening quarter. They were strong defensively early on, forcing six French turnovers in the period. Two of those turnovers led to back-to-back baskets from Jayson Tatum that built on the early lead. Zach Lavine got into early foul trouble, which led to more playing time for Jrue Holiday early on.
The story early on for France was their inability to protect the ball. This gave the U.S. easy buckets in transition. Fournier got them going offensively.
The United States jumps out to a 22-15 lead after one period.
The second was a much more competitive quarter. Damian Lillard hit two three-pointers early and LaVine went on a 5-0 run later in the period. Kevin Durant was benched after picking up his third foul. Team USA continued to force turnovers this period and would take the ball away nine times total in the half.
France held on in the first half thanks in a large part to Fournier’s team-high 12 points. He was helped offensively by Rudy Gobert. The NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year slammed in a couple of dunks in the second, including one off of a nifty no-look pass from Nicolas Batum. France stayed within striking distance despite shooting a paltry 1-11 from three for the half.
The United States held a 45-37 lead going into halftime.
France blew the U.S. away in the third period, outscoring America 25-11 in the quarter. Things started off quickly with Fournier making two from beyond the arc. Nando De Colo came up big for the French, scoring seven straight down the stretch, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 2:42 remaining. Vincent Poirier passed very well out of the post, contributing to the comeback with assists and a crucial and-one late in the quarter.
Durant was benched this quarter after committing his fourth foul. With nearly seven minutes left in the period, Durant was forced to sit with only one foul left between him and fouling out. With only 11 points scored in the period, there weren’t many bright spots for the United States in the third.
France took a 62-56 lead into the final period.
The game tightened up in the fourth. Holiday hit two threes that helped Team USA regain the lead halfway into the quarter. The United States built a 74-67 lead with 3:19 left in the period. They quickly squandered the lead by giving up two big threes from Batum and Fournier on the same inbound play. France cut the lead to two in only 38 seconds of game time. Fournier then hit another clutch three-pointer with one minute left. This bucket gave France a 76-74 lead and was caused and assisted by a great hustle play from Guerschon Yabusele.
Team USA had three quality looks from deep that would have given them the lead. LaVine, Durant, and Holiday would each miss an open look in the same possession late in the game. Two De Colo free throws and an unfortunate turnover would seal Team USA’s fate.
France stuns the United States 83-76
USA – France Olympics: Key Players
France relied heavily on Fournier offensively. He did not disappoint, scoring a game-high 28 points. This is good to see from the sweet-shooting wingman as he struggled last season once traded to the Boston Celtics. Gobert and De Colo came up big as well, scoring 13 and 14 points respectively. It was a true team effort from the French, with all but one of their players that saw the floor scoring at least 3 points.
The United States lost their first Olympic game since 2004, snapping a 25-game Olympic winning streak. However, this team has now lost three games in recent memory, which could be cause for concern. Holiday was the best player on the floor for Team USA, scoring a team-high 18 points. Bam Adebayo played well with a 12 point and 10 rebound double-double. This team will need better shooting performances from Durant, Lillard, and Devin Booker if they are going to make a run at the gold medal. Khris Middleton didn’t play much and didn’t play well. A bounceback 20-point performance could be in his near future.
Team USA looks to redeem themselves in their next matchup against Iran on Wednesday, July 28th at 12:40 AM EST.
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