At the Pan Am Games in Toronto two National basketball teams were playing to end disappointing streaks. Team USA hadn’t won Gold at this tournament since 1983, the Canadians have never even medaled and the two teams were facing off in a semi-final for the right to play Brazil in the Gold Medal game the next day. With Team USA looking like they had taken control in the third quarter, 18-year-old point guard Jamal Murray became an unstoppable scoring force to steal a shot at Gold for Canada.
This was a game of runs with each side looking like they had figured things out and were about to take over, but it never happened. Canada took a five point lead 52-47 into the half, but the US came back with a 33 point third quarter and built a misleading six point edge 80-74 heading into the fourth quarter. That was a typical score for an entire game in this tournament, so really no lead should have felt safe and it wasn’t.
Murray opened the fourth quarter with 9 points in 2.4 minutes as Canada went on an 11-2 run to regain the advantage. The young point guard scored 14 of his team’s 23 points in the quarter and head coach Jay Triano put the ball in his hands for the final play in regulation time, Murray just missing on the last shot to sent the game into overtime.
In OT, Murray assisted on a three-pointer by Anthony Bennett and made the pretty play to Bennett for the monster slam to give Canada the early five point lead. But just like the rest of this game, the US came right back and reclaimed the lead with two minutes to go. At this point Murray took over again and in a one minute span Murray scored eight points including back-to-back three-pointers to put Canada up 110-106 and deny the Americans their chance to end that 32-year Gold Medal drought at this tournament. It has been quite the coming out party for the tournament’s second youngest player who won’t attend his first year of college until the fall.
The final score was 111-108 for the host Country with Canada shooting 50 percent from the field and the USA 48 percent. Canada outrebounded the US 50-29, but gave back that advantage by turning the ball over 8 more times. Each team made 13 three-point shots, the difference being the US made 11-18 through three quarters and then went 2-16, while Canada started off 7-25 over the first three periods and finished going 6-13. In this game, it came down to who was going to miss.
The leading scorer was Andrew Nicholson with 31 points and 10 rebounds. Nicholson had a spectacular night that was overshadowed by the finish from Murray. Canada’s other NBA player Anthony Bennett had 18 points and 14 rebounds and fought through foul trouble all game.
Former NBA player and 32-year-old veteran guard Bobby Brown led the Americans with 25 points. Another former NBA player Anthony Randolph had 21 points and led his team with 6 boards.
The US plays the Dominican Republic on Saturday at 11am ET for a chance at Bronze. Unbeaten Canada takes on unbeaten Brazil for Gold at 4:30pm ET.