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Brunson, Team USA lose bronze to Canada at FIBA World Cup

Brooks drops 39, Brunson and Hart run out of gas.

USA v Canada: 3rd Place Game - FIBA Basketball World Cup Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

Dillon Brooks led Canada to their first-ever FIBA Basketball World Cup medal with a 127-118 overtime victory against Team USA. Brooks scored 39 points, which broke a 70-year record for the most points ever scored by a Canadian in a FIBA World Cup game.

Knickerbocker RJ Barrett added 23 points and seven rebounds, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander contributed 31 points, 12 assists, and six rebounds.

In the bronze medal game, Team USA started Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Anthony Edwards, Mikal Bridges and Walker Kessler. Steve Kerr was left with a nine-man rotation because Paolo Banchero, Brandon Ingram, and Jaren Jackson Jr. sat with illness.

Brunson (13 points, 5-for-11 FG) and Hart (10 points, 4-for-4 FG) played 22 minutes apiece. Both logged two assists and one rebound, and both were a negative +/-. Brunson was a -17, Hart a -5. Because someone will surely be interested: Tyrese Haliburton scored six points and seven assists 31 minutes.

Thanks to a stunning sequence by former Villanova Wildcat Mikal Bridges, Team USA was able to extend the game to overtime. Down by three, Bridges bricked a free throw, rebounded his miss, and nailed a pocket three to tie the game 111-111 with 0.6 on the clock.

Interesting coaching choices in this one. Committed to small ball, Coach Steve Kerr eventually went with five guards and wings, with Josh Hart (6’5”) the biggets. Hart fouled out, and was replaced by Jalen Brunson (6’1”). Kerr rode this assortment through most of the last 10 minutes, and came close enough to sniff a medal.

Despite Bridges’ heroics and Anthony Edwards’ 24-point effort, the incorrigible irritant Brooks and his canuck counterparts proved to be too much. The Americans were gassed and Canada took control in overtime, thanks to steady play by Brooks, SGA, and Barrett. Playing tough defense in overtime, Barrett harassed Dwight Powell to force the ball out of bounds, then converted a three pointer. Just the sort of stuff we want to see more of next season.

“We tried everything. When we doubled Gilgeous-Alexander, Brooks was making threes. When we didn’t, he was making his pull-ups. Give those guys credits, they both played great,” said Kerr.

The loss extended Team USA’s streak to two consecutive World Cups without a medal, and was a disappointing fizzle to a slapped-together squad that started with some sizzle. Maybe they’ll have better luck at the Paris Olympics next year. Let’s hope Brunson and Hart are fully rested by the start of Knicks’ training camp, just a few weeks away.