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U.S. edges Brazil late; Anthony injures knee

8/9/2006 - NBA

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.

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.