Golden State Warriors’ fans are well aware of the often controversial antics of Dillon Brooks, but the 27-year-old let his basketball do the talking in a huge performance for Canada in their Bronze Medal game victory over the USA.
Following a shock 113-111 loss to Germany on Friday, the USA were unable to close out a double-digit fourth-quarter comeback effort that included an extraordinary four-point possession that sent the game to overtime.
Led by 39 points from Dillon Brooks, Canada’s 127-118 victory has left Golden State Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr and Team USA without a medal from the World Cup.
Steve Kerr was left short-handed prior to the game, with the USA playing without starting center Jaren Jackson Jr. (replaced by Walker Kessler) along with key contributors Brandon Ingram and Paolo Banchero.
Brooks was clearly motivated to perform against a host of his NBA rivals, scoring the first five points amid an ominous 8-0 start for Canada in the opening minutes. After a disappointing Semi-Final loss to Serbia, they responded effectively with a 34-25 first period that put their opposition on the backfoot.
The USA bounced back with a 31-24 second-quarter led by 10 first-half points from bench duo Bobby Portis and Austin Reaves, but an exhilarating 21 points from Brooks (5-for-5 from three-point range) ensured Canada remained up two at the main break.
Brooks continued his incredible play with a layup, assist and a sixth three-pointer early in the third-quarter, with a 33-26 period extending Canada’s lead back to nine with ten minutes to play.
A 14-2 run saw the USA storm back into the contest in the middle of the fourth-quarter, before both teams made big buckets as the lead went back-and-forth in the latter stages. Canada appeared back in control with a four point-lead with just over four seconds remaining, yet a wild final sequence made sure there was more basketball to be played.
Mikal Bridges successfully made his first free-throw to cut the margin to three, before purposefully missing the second, tracking his own offensive rebound and darting to the corner for a triple to send the game to overtime.
Brooks and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander protected Canada from collapse though, making the huge plays in overtime as the USA were unable to run with their late momentum from regulation. Brooks put the finishing touches on with a pair of free-throws to end the game, ending as MVP in one of the crowning moments of his career.
His 39 points, four rebounds and five assists were ably supported by Gilgeous-Alexander’s 31 points, six rebounds and 12 assists, with the USA unable to make amends for the defensive issues that plagued them against Germany.
Anthony Edwards led the way for USA with 24 points, five rebounds and three assists, yet he nor anyone else was unable to stop a disappointing World Cup campaign that promised so much but ultimately delivered very little.