Lakers Highlights: Austin Reaves, Team USA Bounce Back Vs. Italy To Advance To FIBA World Cup Semifinals

After suffering their first loss of the tournament in their last game, some questioned whether Team USA had been exposed. On the contrary, it looks as if that game against Lithuania was exactly what the Americans needed to get back on track in the knockout stage.

Mikal Bridges led the way with 24 points and six rebounds while Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves bounced back from his worst game of the tournament as Team USA dominated Italy 100-63 to advance to the semifinals of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Bridges, Reaves and Tyrese Haliburton have been Team USA’s steadiest players throughout the tournament and the trio led the way as the Americans reversed their trend of slow starts, pushing out to a 10-point lead after one quarter. That lead increased to 22 by the half and Team USA didn’t let up in the third, outscoring Italy by 17 points.

Reaves struggled against the physical Lithuanians and was played off the floor as he was regularly hunted on defense. But on this night, Reaves was his normal self, finishing with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists. Meanwhile, his backcourt partner off the bench, Haliburton, had another outstanding night with 18 points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Haliburton, Reaves and Bridges combined to knock down 12-of-17 3-pointers which helped offset the rough offensive night for Team USA leading scorer Anthony Edwards. The Timberwolves star shot just 1-of-6 and finished with only three points, likewise Jaren Jackson Jr. again found himself in early foul trouble and contributed just two points and three rebounds.

But it didn’t matter because the American defense was absolutely suffocating. Team USA held Italy to just 30.7% shooting from the field overall and an abysmal 7-of-38 shooting from 3-point range. Additionally, Team USA out-rebounded Italy 51-to-33 with all but one player grabbing at least two rebounds in the contest. One issue that still reared its head however were the turnovers as Team USA committed 19 on the night and that will need to be rectified.

Jalen Brunson continued to be a steady hand with nine points and four assists while Bobby Portis led Team USA with seven rebounds to go along with seven points off the bench. Italy was led by Utah Jazz forward Simone Fontecchio, who finished with 18 points and five rebounds. Stefano Tonut added 11 points, four rebounds and five assists.

Next up for Team USA

Team USA has advanced to the FIBA World Cup semi-finals which take place on Friday, Sept. 8 where they will take on the winner of Germany and Latvia.

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