France closed the game on a 16-2 run to pull off the upset over Team USA. Including exhibition games, Team USA has now lost 3 of the 5 games that it has played so far. Not super encouraging for them.
Team USA's men's basketball team tipped off the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo with a disappointing 83-76 loss to France in the preliminary group stage round. The loss marks the United States' first Olympic defeat since 2004 when it fell to both Puerto Rico and Lithuania in group play. It also snapped a 25-game Olympic winning streak for the U.S. It's the United States' second straight loss to France in international play, as the French also prevailed in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. However, it's the first time Team USA has ever lost to France in Olympic play, as it was previously 6-0 in the matchup.
Evan Fournier led the way for France with a game-high 28 points on 11-of-22 shooting from the floor, while Rudy Gobert added 14 points and nine rebounds of his own. As a team, France shot an impressive 47 percent from the floor. It outscored the U.S. 46-31 in the second half, and went on an impressive 16-2 run to close out the game and secure the win.
Jrue Holiday, fresh off helping propel the Milwaukee Bucks to an NBA championship, led Team USA with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the loss. Bam Adebayo also added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the U.S., which will now have to regroup before facing off against Iran in their second game in group play on Wednesday.
The 12 teams that are competing in the Olympics are split into three groups and every team within a group faces the other three teams from the group for a total of three games in the group stage. The teams that finish in first and second place in each group will advance into the quarterfinals, along with the two best third-place teams overall. So, while the loss to France isn't ideal for the U.S., it doesn't end its chances of winning a fourth consecutive gold medal.
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Here's a look at three key takeaways from France's upset of the United States.
1. Fournier was the best player on the floor
There was no shortage of star power on the court for the contest between the United States and France. The U.S. roster has a plethora of NBA All-Stars, champions and a former league MVP in Kevin Durant, and the French team has the NBA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Rudy Gobert. However, the best player on the floor during this game was Evan Fournier.
Fournier hit big bucket after big bucket for France, and ultimately his production was a major determining factor in the contest. In all, he finished with a game-high 28 points while shooting 50 percent from the floor (11 of 22). He also knocked down four 3s and grabbed four rebounds. He hit a 3 with just a minute remaining to put France up 76-74, and they were able to hold onto the lead from there.
After the game, Fournier provided an honest assessment of Team USA. "They are better individually but they can be beaten as a team," he said. Based on this game, he obviously isn't wrong.
If Fournier can continue to produce points efficiently like he did against the U.S., France will have a chance to make some real noise in Tokyo. Plus, Fournier is set for unrestricted free agency in the NBA over the offseason. It will be interesting to see how his performance in the Olympics impacts his market value, if at all.
2. No Finals fatigue for Holiday
Jrue Holiday has had a whirlwind of a week. He helped the Milwaukee Bucks win their first NBA title in 50 years on Tuesday, celebrated with the city on Thursday and then flew out to Tokyo to join Team USA ahead of their matchup against France. Given the fact that Holiday was fresh off a deep postseason run and didn't have an opportunity to play -- or practice -- with Team USA, some expected coach Gregg Popovich to ease him into action early on in Olympic play. That wasn't the case.
Against France, Holiday played more minutes (27:52) than anyone else on Team USA, and he also scored the most points on the team (18). Holiday was especially effective in the fourth quarter of the contest, where he recorded 12 of his 18 points:
Unfortunately for the U.S., Holiday's production wasn't enough for them to pull out a win, though it's clear that he will be integral to the team's success moving forward.
The other two players who basically went straight from the Finals to Tokyo -- Khris Middleton and Devin Booker -- didn't fare quite as well as Holiday against France. Middleton went scoreless in just five minutes of action, while Booker played 18 minutes but scored just four points of 1-of-6 shooting from the floor. Perhaps fatigue played a bigger factor for those two than it did for Holiday.
3. Fouls vs. field goals
It was a rough game all around for the United States, and that's illustrated by the fact that several of the team's key contributors recorded as many, or more, personal fouls than made field goals against France:
- Devin Booker: 2 fouls, 1 made FG
- Draymond Green: 4 fouls, 1 made FG
- Kevin Durant: 5 fouls, 4 made FG
- JaVale McGee: 1 foul, 0 made FG
- Zach LaVine: 3 fouls, 3 made FG
It's tough to win a game in the Olympics when nearly half of your roster has as many fouls as shots made. As a team, the United States shot just 36 percent from the floor, compared to 47 percent from France. In a game that was decided by seven points, this made a big difference.
Moving forward, the U.S. will need to convert shots at a higher clip in order to give itself a better chance of pulling out wins. Given the talent on the team, that shouldn't be too tall of a task.