USA Basketball Continues On Cruise Control

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The United States couldn't shake Canada with offense alone. Turning up the defense sure did the trick.

The Americans held the Canadians to just two field goals in a dominant second quarter, pulling away for a 113-63 victory Saturday to remain unbeaten in the FIBA Americas tournament.

Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points, equaling the second-best U.S. total in an Olympic qualifying game, and Michael Redd added 19, including five 3-pointers. But the United States didn't pull away until it tightened its defense after a competitive first quarter.

"I said before the game we had to be ready because the U.S. had been dominating teams in the first quarter," Canada coach Leo Rautins said. "We did a good job of being close and executing, and then they killed us in the second quarter."

Kobe Bryant had 15 points, Amare Stoudemire 12 and LeBron James 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Americans, who reached 100 points less than 2 1/2 minutes into the fourth quarter and are averaging 116 in the tournament -- not far off the record 121.2 the Dream Team put up in 1992.

The United States (3-0) closes pool play Sunday night against fellow unbeaten Brazil, which beat the U.S. Virgin Islands 93-89 later Saturday. The winner of Sunday's game would earn the top seed from Group B in the second round, which begins Monday.

"The team we played today uses a system and we had to take them out of it, and Brazil is that same kind of team," U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "But they also have as complete a player as there is in this tournament in Leandro Barbosa, especially the way they use him. They're a top-flight team and we respect them."

Former Arkansas player Olumuyiwa Famutimi scored 17 points for the Canadians, who were playing for the fourth straight day and were overwhelmed by the deeper Americans, who had Friday off. They hung close until going more than 6 minutes without a basket to open the second period.

"I was able to get shots early but then they were great defensively," said Famutimi, who scored 11 points in the first quarter. "They took everything away from us. They just didn't let me get the ball and I never saw those same shots I had had."

The early starting time attracted what was easily the largest crowd of the tournament -- and a visit from injured U.S. star Dwyane Wade -- and they were treated to an entertaining first quarter. The United States made 10 of its first 13 shots, including dunks from Anthony, Bryant and James, and led 24-9 after James' powerful dunk with 3:20 remaining in the period.

But the Canadians hung around by going 4-of-5 from 3-point range, and when Jermaine Anderson made a jumper with about 2 seconds left, the U.S. lead was only 28-21 heading to the second even after the Americans shot 67 percent from the field.

But the Americans quickly pulled away behind their reserves, who scored the first 18 U.S. points in what became a 27-4 run to open the second. The Canadians were 0-of-8 from the field during the stretch, managing just four free throws by Juan Mendez.

"In the second quarter, when the second group came in the game, our whole goal was don't worry what we got to do offensively," Tayshaun Prince said, "just try to stop them from scoring because we gave up some points in the first quarter."

By the time Jesse Young made a layup -- which Anthony nearly blocked -- with 3:45 remaining, the Americans led 55-27. Canada quickly had another drought, managing just five free throws before David Thomas made their other basket on an offensive rebound with 16 seconds to play.

"Canada had made some outside shots in the first quarter," Prince added. "We made it important, we made it imperative, at the end of the first quarter, because we had come in the game and were fresh, we were maybe out there 40-something seconds. So we made it important to make some stops and get to the glass and try to get a run going."

The Canadians were 2-for-13 with four turnovers in the period, and the Americans outscored them 37-13 to take a 65-34 halftime lead. The United States made 23 of 37 shots (62 percent) in the half.

The lead quickly ballooned into the 40s behind a couple of impressive plays from James. He grabbed a defensive rebound and drove all the way down the court for a backboard-shaking dunk, then about 2 minutes later threw a look-away bounce pass to a cutting Bryant along the baseline for a reverse layup.

"Guys are so used to playing in the afternoon or late at night, so I just wanted to turn it up a little bit," James said. "I got a chance to get my second wind a little bit early in the second half and it gave us a lot of energy."

Anthony shot 9-of-12 in tying Gary Payton's 25-point night in the 1999 qualifier. Allen Iverson, Anthony's Denver teammate, scored a U.S. event-record 28 in '03.

Canada never had much chance of getting two-time MVP Steve Nash to play this summer -- though there is a chance he'd consider playing in 2008 if they advanced. The Canadians then lost Syracuse's Andy Rautins, the coach's son, to a serious knee injury in the opener against Brazil.

But the Canadians (2-2), who are off Sunday, are already into the second round.


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email: feedback@wibw.com
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 9384436 - wibw.com/a?a=9384436