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TEAM USA: Joe Harris grabs 8 boards, hands out 3 assists in win over Greece

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FIBA

Joe Harris scored only three points Saturday but grabbed eight rebounds and handed out three assists in Team USA’s 69-53 win over Greece and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the FIBA World Cup second round.

Harris started his second straight game with Jayson Tatum still out with a sprained ankle.

The Nets swingman played 21 minutes, which has been his norm under Gregg Popovich. The NBA’s leading 3-point shooter was only 1-of-3 from deep, 1-of-4 overall, but was part of the Americans’ stingy defense. In their past two games, Team USA has held its opponents to 38-of-128 from the field.

Antetokounmpo had a double-double with 15 points and 13 boards but played only 26 minutes. Greece’s coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos said he shut Antetokounmpo down early so he could save his energy for Greece’s critical game Monday vs. the Czech Republic.

Harris again won praise for his all-around play. Coach David Thorpe of True Hoop, tweeted this as the game ended..

Harris ranks fourth in Team USA rebounding after four games, averaging 5.5 per game.

Popovich’s original plan, Harris said, was to start him on Antetokounmpo, then changed his mind.

“Pop called me and was like, ‘Giannis is going to be particularly aggressive coming into the game, but especially if he sees that you’re matching up with him to start,’” Harris said.

Harrison Barnes ultimately got the assignment.

Kemba Walker led the U.S. with 15 points, one of two Americans in double figures. Donovan Mitchell finished with 10. Team USA will next play Brazil, which is coached by Drazen Petrovic’s brother. The Brazilians are 3-1 in the tournament, having won their initial group with a 3-0 record. They picked up their first loss against the Czech Republic in the second round. That makes this game do-or-die for Brazil.