Team USA partakes in offensive feast during win against Turkey
Posted: Saturday, August 2, 2008 12:00 am
By: By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer
MACAU (AP) — Any team with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in the lineup is going to score.
Sure enough, the United States had no problem doing so in the first quarter Thursday — but neither did Turkey. The Americans didn’t pull away until their offensive superstars decided to be defensive stoppers.
James scored 20 points and was a defensive force in his exhibition debut, helping the U.S. Olympic team overcome some early sloppy play to beat Turkey 114-82 in its first game in China.
James and Bryant both finished with five steals, leading a defensive effort that had 16 of them.
“We love defense as a team because we have a lot of guys who can get at it defensively, cause some havoc and make a lot of plays,” guard Dwyane Wade said.
James made them on both ends of the floor.
The NBA’s leading scorer was 8-of-9 from the field and finished with six rebounds, five steals and four assists in 23 minutes, sitting out the fourth quarter.
“I think he played excellently,” center Dwight Howard said. “He passed the ball well, played great defense, ran the lanes. He played like LeBron James.”
Bryant was only 1-of-5 for seven points but had seven assists with his five steals. Often considered the NBA’s greatest player, he wasn’t the dominant player on the floor this time.
“The best was LeBron James, who made a big difference,” Turkey coach Bogdan Tanjevic said.
Carmelo Anthony added 17 points and Howard had some powerful dunks while finishing with 14 for the Americans, who shot 69.5 percent (41-of-59) from the field.
They allowed 10 field goals in the first quarter, then only 10 combined over the next two periods.
They improved to 2-0 in Olympic tuneup play and face Lithuania here today before moving on to Shanghai for their remaining two games.
“I think the first quarter was an adjustment period for us, we were getting used to what they were running, what their sets were,” Bryant said. “The second quarter we did a much better job of locking in and taking those away.”
James sprained his right ankle when he stepped on another player’s foot during a scrimmage early last week.
The injury was considered mild and James likely could have played today against Canada, but the U.S. staff opted to rest him to avoid further swelling before the long flight to Asia.
“Obviously he’s healthy,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He got player of the game. I voted for him twice.”
hony for a dunk.
Wade and Chris Bosh each scored 13 points and Chris Paul added 12 points and six assists.
Cenk Akyol had 22 points for Turkey. Turkoglu, the Orlando forward voted the most improved player in the NBA last season, shot around before the game and was introduced with the rest of the team, but Tanjevic held him out because of a lingering hamstring injury.
Turkey didn’t qualify for the Olympics but has an automatic berth into the 2010 world championships as the host country.