USA coach Gregg Popovich shows grumpy side

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The Dream Team juggernaut has lost its aura, and coach Gregg Popovich has let out his frustrations on the media with a joke that fell flat and an uncomfortable verbal stoush.

The US slumped to back-to-back losses on Tuesday when they followed up their 90-87 defeat to Nigeria with a shock 91-83 loss at the hands of the Australian Boomers in Las Vegas.

From 1992 through 2019, the US had compiled a formidable 54-2 record in exhibition games and also won the past three Olympic gold medals.

But their two recent flops have raised serious questions about their gold medal prospects at the upcoming Tokyo Games.

It was clear from the outset of Tuesday's post-match media press conference that Popovich was ready for conflict.

A reporter asked Portland guard Damian Lillard about his thoughts on the match, and then followed it up by asking Popovich the same thing.

"Why does he get two questions?" Popovich bristled in response.

After an awkward pause, Popovich said: "It's a joke." He then went on to answer the question by merely saying: "Damian's right on it (with his answer)."

But things became even more uncomfortable when a reporter asked Lillard about what it was like watching the US teams from the past blow opponents off the court, and now struggle to post wins.

Lillard reflected on how years ago rival teams would only have one or two NBA players, whereas now their opponents are generally filled with NBA stars.

Popovich took issue with the question.

"Let me also answer that question," he said.

"You asked the same sort of question, the same family of question last time (after the loss to Nigeria), where you assume things that are not true, when you just mention blowing these teams out. That's never happened. So I don't know where you get that."

When the reporter tried to justify the question, Popovich was having none of it.

"Can I finish?" Popovich asked while the reporter continued to explain his stance.

"Can I finish? Can I finish my statement? Can I finish my statement? Are you going to let me finish my statement or not? So, you'll be quiet now while I talk, then I'll listen to you.

"When you make statements about in the past just blowing out these other teams, number one, you give no respect to the other teams; And I talked to you last time about the same thing.

"We've had very close games against four or five countries at all these tournaments. So, the good teams do not get blown out.

"There are certain games that might happen in one of the tournaments -- the World Championships or the Olympics -- where somebody gets blown out. But in general, nobody is blowing anybody out from the good teams.

"So when you make a statement like that it's like you assume that's what is going on, and that's incorrect."

The US will be back in action on Wednesday when they take on Argentina.

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