Lakers Highlights: Austin Reaves One Of Five In Double Figures As Team USA Survives Test Vs. Montenegro

Team USA’s biggest weakness is well known in that they have a lack of size and that was on full display against Montenegro on Friday morning. But what they do have is toughness, resilience and players like Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton and Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves, who continue to rise to the occasion.

Reaves was one of five players in double-figures, led by 17 points from Edwards as Team USA survived a halftime deficit to pull away late and come away with a 85-73 victory in the first game of their second round group stage against Montenegro at the 2023 FIBA World Cup. The win, coupled with Lithuania’s victory over Greece, ensured that the Americans will advance to the quarterfinals.

A big, strong, physical European team, Montenegro immediately attacked Team USA on the glass. They out-rebounded the Americans 49-31 including 23 offensive rebounds. Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic led the way with 16 boards, seven of those coming on the offensive end, to go along with 18 points.

Team USA would make up for their rebounding issues with their defense, forcing 22 turnovers and holding Montenegro to just 40% shooting overall. Reaves led the way on that front with three steals while four others had two as well.

Edwards actually went scoreless in the first half, missing all five of his shots, but would take over immediately in the third quarter with USA trailing by one point at the half. Things remained close down the stretch with Team USA holding on to a four-point lead with just three minutes remaining, but Reaves stepped up with a huge clutch 3-pointer, his only field goal of the night, to give the Americans some breathing room.

Reaves finished with 12 points, nine coming from the free throw line as Lakers fans are accustomed to seeing, along with two rebounds, two assists and three steals. Haliburton was also huge with a game-high six assists and 10 points.

Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with 11 points while Mikal Bridges added 10 points as well. Aside from Vucevic, the only other player from Montenegro to score in double-figures was American-born Kendrick Perry who finished with 14 points and six assists, but also five turnovers.

Next up for Team USA…

Team USA has another tough test on their hands as they face another tough, physical European team in Lithuania led by New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas. Regardless of the outcome, they will then move on to the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup.

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