The good news is that exhibition basketball games don't count. The bad news is that Team USA is unfamiliar with rationalizing exhibition game losses.
On Monday, the U.S. men's basketball team suffered its second straight upset in Olympic friendly play, losing to Australia, 91-83, in Las Vegas. The three-time defending gold medalists were only two days removed from a shocking 90-87 loss to Nigeria, and according to ESPN Stats & Info, this is the first time the U.S. has lost back-to-back exhibitions since pros started playing in 1992.
Following the loss, U.S. head coach Gregg Popovich had a tense exchange with Joe Vardon of The Athletic, and Popovich's postgame comments and response to Vardon's question triggered Brandon Tierney during Tuesday's edition of the Tiki and Tierney show.
"Here's what Popovich actually had the audacity to say last night: 'I thought we got better tonight' -- what the hell is he talking about? I'm dead serious right now," Tierney said. "That's what I want the coach of the United States to admit to the entire world? You went five minutes without a bucket, you lost to an inferior team again, you look like you've got five to eight guys who don't care about being there, and he says, 'I thought we got better tonight.'
"Popovich annoys me... I'm not a big Popovich fan. I don't like his attitude... Listen, I see it a little differently. We also view Pop a little differently. It's all good. One of the best of all-time. He's not doing a good job with Team USA so far. Maybe that changes, maybe they win the gold -- I certainly hope they do. I need a little more urgency... I'd just like more authority. Maybe I'm a little turned off by, what appears to me to be, a lack of protecting what's ours..."
In Team USA's loss to Australia, Damian Lillard scored a team-high 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting from behind the arc, while Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal combined for 23 points and seven rebounds.
Team USA will play its third exhibition game Tuesday night against Argentina (6:00 p.m. ET). According to the William Hill Sportsbook, the Americans are still favored to win gold at the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, which begin on July 23.
The entire Team USA conversation between Tiki and Tierney can be accessed in the audio player above.