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Basketball: Team USA rebounds from historic losses, beats Argentina

Kevin Durant of the United States, shown during the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, scored 17 points in Team USA's win over Argentina on Tuesday in Las Vegas. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Kevin Durant of the United States, shown during the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, scored 17 points in Team USA's win over Argentina on Tuesday in Las Vegas. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

July 13 (UPI) -- After suffering back-to-back historic losses in preparation for the Summer Games in Tokyo, the Team USA men's basketball squad stabilized itself with a dominant 108-80 win over Argentina on Tuesday night in Las Vegas.

Team USA entered this summer's exhibition slate with a 54-2 record since 1992, but the Americans quickly doubled that loss total with two stunning defeats in three days at the hands of Nigeria and Australia.

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Needing a win to avoid a third straight loss and to gain some momentum ahead of its Olympic opener in 12 days, Team USA put together its most complete showing against the Argentinians.

"I thought we sustained our [stamina] pretty well," Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said. "Against Australia we competed well, rebounded, played defense, ran the floor and had good pace for a half and then it dissipated for a half.

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"Tonight, we maintained that pretty much throughout the game. Hopefully that's a sign we're getting better."

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal both had 17 points and six rebounds to lead the Americans to their first exhibition win of the summer.

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Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, who entered the starting lineup for injured Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum (sore knee), finished with 15 points. Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard notched 13 points, while Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo added 12 points and five assists.

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"A sense of urgency is what we're kind of preaching," Beal said. "Today we got better, but there's still a lot more we can improve on. We're moving in the right direction."

Team USA shot 6 of 9 from 3-point territory to build a 33-19 first-quarter lead. The Americans later scored the final six points of the first half to take a 58-42 advantage into halftime.

The U.S. increased its lead to as many as 25 points in the third quarter and led 81-62 with 10 minutes remaining. Team USA outscored Argentina 27-18 in the fourth to earn the 108-80 victory.

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Former NBA player Luis Scola, 41, scored a team-best 16 points for Argentina, which has a 0-3 record in the exhibition games at Mandalay Bay this week.

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Next up, Team USA will have a rematch with Australia on Friday. The Americans will then face Spain on Sunday before departing for the Tokyo Olympics on July 19.

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