The U.S. men's national basketball team has been off its game so far, but head coach Gregg Popovich is already in midseason form.
Team USA lost to Australia 91-83 on Monday night in Las Vegas, falling to 0-2 in exhibition play ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. While the games are meaningless (for now), it was still surprising to see an All-Star-laden roster lose to Nigeria and Australia, teams with only a handful of NBA players on their rosters.
After Monday's loss, a reporter asked guard and first-time Olympian Damian Lillard what these defeats felt like after watching previous U.S. squads "blow these teams out."
Let's just say Popovich didn't like that question.
"You asked the same sort of question ... last time where you assume things that are not true," Popovich told the reporter. "You just mentioned blowing these teams out. That's never happened. So, I don't know where you get that."
The reporter's response wasn't caught on microphone -- we'd imagine he was reminding Popovich of the 2016 U.S. men's team, which cruised through the preliminary round at the Rio Olympics with a 5-0 record and plus-117 point differential -- but Pop clearly wasn't having it.
"Can I finish? Can I finish? Can I finish my statement?" Popovich said. " ... Are you going to let me finish my statement or not? So, you be quiet now while I talk, and I'll listen to you."
Pop's issue with the question was that it gives "no respect" to teams like Nigeria and Australia, who have given the U.S. some battles in international play. In that sense, Popovich is right: Team USA's second-closest game in the 2016 Olympics was a 98-88 win over Australia.
We probably should have seen this coming, as Popovich has been known to be brusque with the media and also wants his team to take its opponents seriously.
That shouldn't be an issue after back-to-back losses. Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum struggled in Monday's loss, as well -- eight points on 4-of-12 shooting and 0-for-6 from 3-point range -- so he'll have plenty of motivation to turn things around.
Tatum, Team USA assistant coach Ime Udoka and the Americans will get another crack at Australia on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. ET.