Carmelo, Team USA bounce back against Lithuania
SEOUL, South Korea -- With Carmelo Anthony back at full strength, the United States had little trouble with Lithuania.
Something that Jerry Colangelo has told me over and over again -- "Don't judge us until this thing is over" -- kept bouncing around my brain in the wee hours of Sunday morning as I watched Team USA take apart Lithuania 111-88 in tuneup game No. 4 heading into the World Championship.
• For more Chris Sheridan's analysis, click here.
Anthony, who hyperextended his knee and left in the second quarter of a win over Brazil last week, scored 19 points Sunday as the United States cruised to a 111-88 win over Lithuania in a tuneup for the world championships.
Anthony set the tone early with a slam dunk in the opening minutes that drew a huge ovation from the crowd, and LeBron James closed out the first half with a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to give the U.S. a 56-32 lead at the break.
Dwyane Wade added 14 points as the United States improved to 4-0 in exhibition games leading up to the 2006 World Championships. The Americans took a 28-point lead after the third quarter.
"Our game plan was to just keep the ball moving," said Anthony, who leads the U.S. in scoring in the four exhibition games. "We know we can score from just about anywhere, so we don't have to wait for a fantastic shot."
Early in the final quarter, James brought the crowd to its feet with a one-handed dunk that made it 87-55. The Cleveland Cavaliers star gave the Americans a 108-78 advantage with another massive jam with 2 minutes left.
After one more exhibition game against South Korea, the U.S. team will head to Sapporo, Japan, for its opening game of the championships Saturday against Puerto Rico.
"I thought we played very good defense," said U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski. "Lithuania is a strong team and we were able to take them out defensively. I think we got better today by playing an outstanding team."
Wade, who had 10 points in the first quarter, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the U.S. a 25-9 lead midway through the first period.
Kristov Lavrinovic led Lithuania with 26 points. But Lithuania, fourth in the world rankings, didn't look like the medal contender many expect them to be in Japan.
It was an impressive performance for an American team that is quickly adjusting to the wider lanes of international play. The United States finished sixth at the worlds in 2002 and third in 1998. The last time the Americans won the tournament was 1994.
The U.S. team brought 14 players to Asia. The roster must be reduced to 12 before the start of the world championships.
In another game at the World Basketball Challenge, Stefano Mancinelli had 16 points and Italy won 96-61 over South Korea. Stefano Belinelli was 3-for-5 from the 3-point line and scored 14 points, while Fabio Di Bella added 12 for Italy.
Lee Kyu-sup led the hosts with 16 points, including five 3-pointers. South Korea fell to 0-3 and faces the United States on Tuesday.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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