“Team USA’s biggest issue for the actual tournament — accepting that [Tyrese] Haliburton and [Austin] Reaves are [two] of the best guys on the team. They’re gonna have to be out there in any big situation even if feelings get hurt,” Simmons posted on X (formerly Twitter).
Brunson watched from the bench as Haliburton and Reaves, along with Anthony Edwards, led Team USA’s comeback from a 16-point deficit in the second half.
The Knicks star was held to eight points on 2-of-6 shooting and three assists in 15 minutes. But his defense was more troubling as Germany’s starting backcourt of Dennis Schröder (16 points) and Andreas Obst (12 points) scored at will against the 6-foot-2 Brunson.
Team USA coach Steve Kerr had seen enough after Obst scored on a four-point play off a Brunson foul that gave the Germans their first double-digit lead, 65-54, with 6:20 left in the third quarter.
Haliburton replaced Brunson 29 seconds later and the Indiana Pacers’ All-Star guard quickly engineered a 16-3 Team USA run. He had 11 of his 16 points during that blitz that cut a 16-point deficit down to four entering the fourth quarter.
Reaves also finished with 16 points off the bench and scored key baskets during the American’s second-half comeback.
Edwards, however, emerged as Team USA’s go-to-guy after erupting for 34 points on 11-of-21 shooting and a perfect 8-of-8 trip at the free throw line.
Kerr anointed Edwards as “unquestionably the guy” afterward.
No Friction Between Tyrese Haliburton & Jalen Brunson
Haliburton has no issues with Brunson starting over him despite an All-Star accolade last season and a supermax extension this offseason to show.
“I think that the more ball handlers you have, the better,” Haliburton told The Athletic during their training camp earlier this month. “I think the way we play is kind of whoever gets it, get out and push. But I think having Jalen and me at the point guard spot, regardless of if we play together, if I’m behind him or in front of him, whatever, like it doesn’t matter because I think we’re two very capable guys and that’s the biggest thing with USA Basketball. Like everybody’s going to play. We’re all used to playing 35, 38, 40 minutes a game in the season. But with this, you’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Brunson has started in all five exhibition games for Team USA, but as the 6-foot-2 point guard struggled against size in their finale against Germany, Kerr turned to the 6-foot-5 Haliburton to close the match.
Kerr has six more days to decide whether to stick with Brunson or elevate Haliburton to the starting lineup.
Team USA will open their gold medal bid against New Zealand on August 26 in Manila, Philippines.
France Takes 1st Loss Despite Evan Fournier’s Explosion
Evan Fournier scored a game-high 29 points for France, but it was not enough to avert France’s fourth-quarter collapse to taste their first defeat in seven warmup games for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Australia stormed back from a 70-66 deficit in the final three minutes to score a 78-74 upset on Sunday in Japan.
Fournier missed a wide-open three-pointer that could have given France the lead with 14.4 seconds left.