U.S. edges Brazil late; Anthony injures knee
GUANGZHOU, China -- After a pair of big blowouts, the U.S. finally got some competition.
The Americans also got a reality check: Facing the world's best basketball teams without Carmelo Anthony is far from an easy task.
Anthony scored 16 first-half points before being forced out with a knee injury, and the United States hung on for a 90-86 victory over Brazil on Tuesday night.
Let's call this one the 10 a.m. wakeup call.
That's the time it was on the East Coast of the United States when Team USA got it's first major scare of its pre-World Championship tour, defeating Brazil 90-86 in a game that should hammer home the notion that winning this tournament isn't going to be the cakewalk too many folks in the States expect it to be.
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The Denver Nuggets forward set the early scoring pace, but slipped while chasing a ball to the sideline with 2:21 left in the second quarter. He crashed into coach Mike Krzyzewski and left the game with a hyperextended right knee.
"Too early to say. Two or three days?" team director Jerry Colangelo told ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan via e-mail when asked when Anthony might be able to play again.
"The injury doesn't look like it's serious," Krzyzewski said.
Kirk Hinrich added 14 points for the Americans, who led 52-38 at halftime. Brazil staged a big comeback while Anthony sat out the rest of the game.
The hard-fought win followed two easy U.S. victories -- a 46-point win over China and 45-point drubbing of Puerto Rico -- and offered a preview of the tougher competition the Americans will likely face at the world championship, which begins in Japan on Aug. 19.
"I think this is a great game for us and we needed this," said Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson, who had 12 points and closed out the warmup win from the free throw line. "We needed to be tested, and tonight we showed a lot of pride."
Brazil went on a 16-0 run right after the break to grab a 54-52 advantage. The teams then traded the lead throughout the third quarter.
Taking advantage of Anthony's absence, Brazil went on the attack. Welington Dos Santos rattled the U.S. defense with his speed and passing, while Leandro Barbosa of the Phoenix Suns, and Alex Garcia repeatedly drove to the basket. Both finished with 14 points.
Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao dictated play under the basket, racking up six defensive rebounds and three offensive boards in the third quarter. He fouled out in the final frame with Brazil trailing 85-82.
Four Brazilian players fouled out.
"It was a game of a lot of adversity for both teams," Krzyzewski said. "Our guys, I'm proud of them because they made winning plays down the stretch."
Hinrich was 8-for-8 from the foul line, and hit two of four 3-point attempts. LeBron James made a late layup, and Johnson added one from the free-throw line to seal it for the Americans.
"We invented the game," said Colangelo. "We sent our players and our coaches out to teach the world, and now they're closing the gap."
The U.S. next travels to South Korea for more exhibition games before heading to Japan.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.