Team USA overcame some early jitters and beat the Czech Republic Sunday in the opening game of the FIBA World Cup. Joe Harris played 19 minutes, scored nine points on 3-of-5 shooting, including 2-of-3 from downtown and led Team USA in +/- with a +19 rating. He also grabbed four rebounds and handed out an assist in his national team debut.
Donovan Mitchell scored 16 points, Harrison Barnes added 14 and the U.S. opened its quest for a third consecutive FIBA World Cup gold medal with an 88-67 victory over the Czech Republic on Sunday.
Kemba Walker scored 13 points and Jayson Tatum finished with 10 for the Americans, who pulled away steadily throughout. Myles Turner had seven rebounds and a pair of blocked shots for the U.S.
Tomas Satoransky, the former Washington forward who was traded to Chicago over the summer, led the Czechs with 17 points.
The game was close early but after an early 9-0 run by the Czechs in the second quarter, order was quickly restored by Team USA. The Americans scored the next 10 points, kick-starting what became a 29-9 run in all, and led by as many as 16 before going into the half with a 43-29 edge.
And it was defense that carried the Americans. Over a 10-minute stretch of the half, the Czechs went 4-of-20 with seven turnovers.
The Czechs got within 14 in the fourth, but the USA quickly added six points and went up by 20.
Harris didn’t start, but he and former teammate Brook Lopez entered the same with 4:27 left in the first with the USA down 11-7.
Steve Jones Jr., a former Nets assistant coach, tweeted out video of a couple of smart plays by Harris.
Good play here from Joe Harris. CZE looks to be in a zone (clip cut short) but as he comes off he's got two guys worried about his shot. Handles the pressure well and his next step is going to be continuing to make plays off the bounce. Sees the space, drives and finishes. pic.twitter.com/KFvi2g0x7u— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) September 1, 2019
The USA next will play Turkey at 8:30 a.m. ET on Sept. 3 and Japan at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Sept. 5, and both games are available to watch live on ESPN+.
Following three first round games for each team, the top two teams from each group advance to second round groups and will play two more games. The top two teams from each of the four second round groups earn a berth into the quarterfinals on Sept. 10 or 11.