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Mikal Bridges hits go-ahead 3, leads Team USA defense in big comeback win

Team USA finished its exhibition game tour in Abu Dhabi with a big comeback helped by a timely Mikal Bridges three and some suffocating defense.

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2023 FIBA World Cup - USA Senior Men’s National Team v Germany Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

In a game where Team USA looked like it was going to suffer its first loss in five exhibition contests, a mad rush, triggered by star performances and solid defense, saved the day and the Americans defeated Germany, 99-91, at the Etihad Arena in the United Arab Emirates Sunday. The US will now fly to Manila for FIBA World Cup games starting next Saturday vs New Zealand.

The Timberwolves Anthony Edwards solidified his role as Team USA’s go-to guy with 34 points on 11-of-20 shooting to go along with six rebounds, two assists and two blocks while Tyrese Halliburton of the Pacers came off the bench to score 16.

The U.S. went down by 16, 71-55, with 3:51 in the third quarter when Haliburton hit three straight triples. By the time the third quarter ended, the German lead had dropped to 77-74, setting the stage for the final piece of the comeback.

Mikal Bridges had only seven points in the game but three of those came with 2:15 left in the game and put the US up for good, 89-86, the culmination of the Americans’ biggest comeback of the exhibition tour, going 22-5 to close out the game, including an 18-0 run. Germany never recovered...

Joe Tsai who’s been in Abu Dhabi for the games, hit the Twitter post button after Bridges three...

In addition to hitting the go-ahead shot, Bridges took on Germany’s Dennis Schroeder in the fourth after the Knicks Jalen Brunson had difficulty controlling the veteran Raptors point guard. In the first three quarters, Schroeder scored 16 points and handed out 10 assists, being a big part of the German push. But with Bridges given primary responsibility for guarding him, Schroeder went scoreless in the fourth, taking only four shots. Schroeder als managed only one assist in the quarter and lost the ball to Bridges on the crucial play immediately after the Nets forward hit the go-ahead shot.

The undeniable star of the game, though, was the 22-year-old Edwards. The 6’4” T’Wolves shooting guard has made a big jump in international play.

“He’s unquestionably ‘the guy,’” head coach Steve Kerr said of Edwards. “I mean … he knows it, but now the team knows it and I think the fans see it. But we see it in practice every day. He genuinely believes he’s the best player in the gym every single night. And he’s such a dynamic young player, but I think he’s taking a leap.”

Edwards averaged 19.2 points in the five games, Team USA’s leading scorer. Bridges finished the five games at 10.4 points a game. Cam Johnson played only four minutes Sunday, missed two shots and didn’t score. He finished the exhibition run averaging 9.0 per game.

“We go to Manila feeling like we have a lot of room for growth, but, we also go there with a lot of confidence, in ourselves, in the group, in the fiber of the group,” Kerr said.