USA Senior Men Open China Basketball Challenge with Rousing 119-73 Victory Over China
• Box Score (PDF)
LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets), playing on separate units, poured in 22 and 18 points, respectively, as the USA Basketball Men's Senior National Team posted its second consecutive convincing exhibition game victory after recording a 119-73 rout of China in the opening game of the China Basketball Challenge held Monday night in Guangzhou, China.
The USA continues its play in Guangzhou and will conclude action in the China Basketball Challenge facing Brazil on Tuesday evening. China played the USA without two of its biggest stars. Houston Rockets star Yao Ming, who is still recovering from foot surgery, did not play, and former NBA player Wang Zhizhi also missed the game because of a minor knee injury.
"We came prepared to play and played unselfishly tonight," stated USA and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "This is a tremendous opportunity for us to grow as a team and get acclimated to playing in this time zone. To play in front of this crowd was excellent. I was happy in that we played very hard every second and we played unselfishly. As long as we do those two things, we'll continue to improve,"
"In the first quarter, they really played us tough and we had to give our best effort to extend the lead even without some of their key players," stated Elton Brand. "We respect all of our opponents and we know we have to give our best effort. We're not taking any team lightly."
The U.S. started fast. Putting up a 14-0 run to grab a 14-3 lead halfway through the first quarter, China battled back behind a 7-0 run of its own to cut the gap to 17-13. The two teams stayed close the remainder of the quarter and James, who had 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the quarter, scored the final five points as the Americans stretched their lead to 24-19 after one quarter of play.
"We just had to settle down. They were riding high off the fans. We wore them down the second half. It's not how you start the game but how you finish," said James.
Outscoring China 36-18 in the second quarter, Anthony hit back to back 3-pointers to help propel the U.S. on a 11-0 run that saw the USA balloon its advantage to 45-25. Finishing the quarter strong, Elton Brand (Los Angeles Clippers) accounted for eight of the USA's final 13 points in the second quarter and by halftime the United States was fully in charge leading 60-37.
The USA's in-your-face defense forced China into 14 turnovers in the first half and 42.3 percent overall shooting, including a chilly 3-of-11 from 3-point.
The third quarter started with an 18-2 run by the U.S., as China did not score its second field goal of the quarter until 4:58 was left in the third, and at the end of three quarters of action the USA had built its lead to 40 points, 93-53.
In addition to James and Anthony's scoring, the U.S. offense was fueled by 14 points from Brad Miller (Sacramento Kings) who shot 5-of-5 overall and made all three of his 3-point tries; Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) tossed in 13 points while adding six rebounds, six assists and five steals; Brand capped the evening with 13 points and six rebounds; and Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors) finished with 10 points.
The U.S. forced China into 34 turnovers, and the Americans were credited with 21 steals. Outrebounding China 30-22, with 15 of the USA's boards coming at the offensive end, the U.S. shot 58.6 percent from the field.
The 14 finalists contending for the 12 man 2006 USA Basketball Men's World Championship Team roster include: Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets); Gilbert Arenas (Washington Wizards); Shane Battier (Houston Rockets); Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors); Bruce Bowen (San Antonio Spurs); Elton Brand (Los Angeles Clippers); Kirk Hinrich (Chicago Bulls); Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic); LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers); Antawn Jamison (Washington Wizards); Joe Johnson (Atlanta Hawks); Brad Miller(Sacramenton Kings); Chris Paul (New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets) and Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat).
Assisting USA head coach Krzyzewski are Syracuse University (N.Y.) and Hall of Fame mentor Jim Boeheim, Phoenix Suns head mentor Mike D'Antoni and Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan.
The USA's training now moves to Guangzhou, China, where the team will train Aug. 6, and play two games as part of the China Basketball Challenge, facing China on Aug. 7 and Brazil on Aug. 8.
From Aug. 11-15 the USA will participate in the five-team World Basketball Challenge 2006 that will be held in Seoul, Korea, at the site of the 1988 Olympic Games basketball competition - Jamsil Gymnasium. The Challenge features national teams from the United States, Italy, Korea, Lithuania and Turkey.
The World Basketball Challenge 2006 officially gets underway Friday, Aug. 11, when Korea plays Turkey (6 p.m., all times local). On Saturday, Aug. 12, Korea will take on Lithuania (2 p.m.), while Italy and Turkey (4 p.m.) will clash in the evening's second game. The USA opens its play on Sunday, Aug. 13, against Lithuania (2 p.m.), and Korea versus Italy (4 p.m.) caps the day's schedule. The Challenge concludes Tuesday, Aug. 15, with Korea meeting the U.S. (3 p.m. local time). The U.S. squad is also scheduled to train in Seoul on Aug. 11, 12, 14, and 16.
The USA's visit to China and Korea mark the first time that a USA men's senior national basketball team comprised of NBA players has visited either country.
The United States will depart on Aug.17 for Sapporo, Japan, where it will play its preliminary round games of the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Men from Aug. 19-24.