Isaiah Thomas scores 19 points in return to court as U.S. beats Bahamas


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Isaiah Thomas scored 19 points in his first competitive game in more than a year, helping the U.S. to a 93-77 victory over the Bahamas on Friday in a FIBA AmeriCup qualifying game.

The 32-year-old Thomas is a two-time NBA All-Star who scored 28.9 points per game for the Boston Celtics in the 2016-17 season. But he suffered a hip injury late in that season and has never regained that form in limited opportunities.

He decided to play for the Americans partly as a showcase in hopes of earning his way back into the NBA, where he most recently played for Washington last February.

The 5-foot-9 guard showed his shot is still there, making three straight 3-pointers early on to start the Americans off with an 11-2 lead. But he also committed six turnovers that helped keep the Bahamas in the game far longer than expected.

James Nunnally also scored 19 points for the Americans. They improved to 5-0 in qualifying play and can remain perfect through three windows by beating Mexico on Saturday.

The U.S. has already clinched a berth in the AmeriCup tournament to be played in 2022, but brought a strong roster to San Juan that features eight players who have NBA regular-season experience. Along with Thomas, the other noteworthy name was seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson, who finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

Still, the U.S. led by only 10 in the fourth quarter after beating the Bahamas by 40 in the November window. The lead was still just 83-72 before Thomas made a layup and 3-pointer to push it to 88-72 and the Americans finally coasted from there.

The qualifying games were added as a way to give national teams the opportunity to play home games, but all four teams in Group D are playing this weekend in San Juan in a bubble setup because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Travis Munnings scored 22 points for the Bahamas (1-4).



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