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Damian Lillard, Gregg Popovich discuss Team USA's biggest issue after second straight exhibition loss

Yardbarker
Yardbarker
 2021-07-13
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San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gestures during the first quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center.  Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Team USA basketball's 90-87 exhibition loss to Nigeria was stunning. The team's second consecutive exhibition loss to Australia on Monday was perhaps a bit more concerning.

With somewhat of a panic surrounding Team USA, Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard and head coach Gregg Popovich discussed the team's biggest issue after Monday's 91-83 loss.

"We are still working at becoming a team, getting our legs under us and getting in shape," Lillard said, according to The Athletic's Joe Vardon.

Popovich added: "In the second half, we tired out. And when that happens, you get hit mentally a little bit, too. We didn't sustain the boards the same way, the defense wasn't the same, our pace wasn't the same, so we got some guys that have to get their legs and rhythm back, but in general, we need more conditioning, which is totally understandable."

The NBA players are coming off a condensed season due to COVID-19, so it's not necessarily surprising that they're tired and need to go through more conditioning.

Still, Team USA's problems can't be blamed solely on poor conditioning. After all, Australia has several NBA players on its roster, too. In his postgame comments, Lillard said that he and his teammates are "working at becoming a team," and there's clearly very little chemistry.

It should also be noted that the team still is without Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, who are still competing in the NBA Finals. The trio should help turn things around, though they could be pretty tired heading into the Olympics after a grueling battle in the NBA playoffs.

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