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FIBA World Cup: Team USA escapes Turkey in 93-92 OT victory

Jayson Tatum forced overtime by making two free throws after getting fouled at the buzzer. Cedi Osman missed critical free throws to cap the extra frame, before Khris Middleton sealed it at the line.

USA v Turkey: Group E - FIBA World Cup 2019 Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

The ball bounced inside, out to the corner, back to the right wing as Team USA — down 81-79 — entered panic mode on offense. The Americans needed decisive action, as Jayson Tatum received the ball at the top of the arc with no time left to defer.

He faked, back-peddled an inch behind the arc and heaved with 0.1 remaining on the clock. The bailout USA needed to avoid their first tangible loss since 2006 didn’t fall — but Cedi Osman did, on Tatum’s right hip. Tatum earned three free throws down 81-79.

Tatum converted the first and last, sending the game to overtime, where Team USA escaped with a 93-92 victory thanks to four straight misses at the line by Dogus Balbay and Cedi Osman. In college-basketball fashion — no team won, one escaped. The Team USA Celtics lost Tatum in the final seconds, stumbling to the floor after driving in transition.

Brian Windhorst reported he suffered a sprained ankle. Tatum shot 3-for-11 in the win, with 11 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Tatum fed Myles Turner early for a dunk after missing his first shot. The play set the tone for a game full of promising passing in the lane, with the inconsistent scoring he’s suffered with the national team.

The US took a 7-2 lead after he drained a pair of free throws, then Kemba Walker side-stepped to his right to hit a three above the arc. Tatum missed another deep two, which Turner swallowed for a put-back.

While the Americans fought through offensive droughts, Turkey took advantage with a strong combination of shooting, rebounding and pace. Osman (15 points, 4 assists) tortured them around the rim, while Furkan Korkmaz (6-for-11) and Ersan Ilyasova (9-for-19) drilled shots.

After a bad pass into the interior, Walker botched a layup, bringing Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown in with a 13-6 lead. Smart quickly fed Brook Lopez for a three. The Turkish soon drew within the single-possession deficit they’d remain at for most of the game.

Melih Mahmutoglu hit consecutive shots around the interior. Korkmaz converted a hook shot and Ilyasova drove through Derrick White for a three-point play. Brown missed his first shot in traffic during the sequence and Turkey pulled within 20-19.

Smart hesitated, then drilled a three on the left wing to end the frame. Walker crossed-up Sertac Sanli, before finding Khris Middleton for three to enter the second quarter ahead 26-21.

The Americans built their largest lead, 38-26, with Tatum rolling to the rim on a smooth euro-step for a three-point play. Turner scored five straight points at the line and from three, before the US hit its longest drought.

Scott Wilbekin traded threes with Ilyasova, then splashed a three as Smart flew through midair and fouled him. Ilyasova set the play up with a block on Walker on the other end.

Walker got the last laugh. His buzzer-beater to cap the third quarter, combined with incessant defense on Turkey’s guards paced the USA even when the game turned flat-out terrifying in the final seconds. America outscored Turkey by nine points with him on the floor, and his biggest play arrived with 20 seconds left in overtime.

He fronted Ilyasova in the post, and returned to position to draw a charge on Wilbekin. If he got the pass off, Ilyasova easily would’ve scored and the US would have prepared for a must-win against Japan on Thursday.

The US got the ball back instead, with plenty of time to set up a shot. Turkey scrambled on defense and forced the play toward Turner. He coughed the ball up to Balbay, who darted off and forced Joe Harris to foul from behind. Balbay bricked both technical fouls, but Turkey still had the ball with no shot clock and a lead.

Smart fouled Osman on the in-bounds. Osman needed only one free throw to at least press the game into double overtime if the Americans couldn’t convert. Turkey could’ve set their defense if he hit the second. He missed both, setting up the worst result, a loose ball in Tatum’s hands bouncing toward their rim.

Tatum dribbled into the paint, Middleton trailed to his left, cut toward the rim and beat the defense back forcing them to foul at the rim. Middleton drilled both, while Tatum walked off the floor with assistance after turning his ankle on the play.

The US outscored Turkey by 17 points with Middleton on the floor. He shot 5-for-9 from the field and 2-for-4 from three. Brown only played six minutes, going scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting. Smart posted a team-low -11 in 11 minutes, finishing 1-for-2 with five points.

The USA and Japan tip-off in the group stage finale on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. EST.

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