SAITAMA, Japan -- Look out, world.
The United States routed Australia 113-73 Sunday, sending an
unmistakable message to the FIBA World Championship. This isn't
the team that proved an embarrassment in recent international
"We wanted to make a statement coming into the round of 16,"
said forward Chris Bosh, who grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
But the Americans made it look almost too easy, turning a tight
game into a laugher by outscoring the Australians 32-6 in the
Now the U.S. can look forward to its quarterfinal match-up Wednesday
night against Germany, another team with a star NBA center and a
mostly anonymous supporting cast. Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas is third
in tournament scoring, averaging 24.5 points.
Given the way the U.S. is playing, it might be more fair to make
them face Bogut and Nowitzki together.
"I think our biggest opponent is ourselves right now," Johnson
said. "We've just got to keep our intensity up."
Asked if the U.S. is unbeatable when its shots are falling,
Johnson replied, "No doubt. When our shots are falling and when
they're not falling."
If Johnson sounds confident it's because the U.S. has outscored
its last two opponents, Senegal and Australia, by a combined
Of course, neither Senegal nor Australia is in the same hoops
universe as Spain or Argentina, which are mowing down the
opposition on the other side of the bracket.
That's why Elton Brand said he hopes his teammates aren't taking
anyone for granted. Brand played on the 2002 U.S. world
championship team that finished sixth in Indianapolis.
"We're not going to be cocky about it," Brand said. "There
are some teams that can give us competition."
Australia wasn't one of them, at least not for 40 minutes. The
Aussies led 15-14 after five minutes and trailed by only 27-23 at
the end of the first period. But then the U.S., which has been
plagued by slow starts throughout the tourney, began to knock down
shots on offense and crack down on defense.
The Americans outscored Australia 32-6 in the second quarter,
and it wasn't that close.
"The second quarter, we kind of took off and had the game in
hand from that point," Wade said.
"Today was the best we played as a unit, with everyone making
the extra pass, getting the guys the best shot possible," Wade
said. "When you do that, it makes your team play that much better
because everyone feels good, everyone's involved, one through 12.
That's what we're looking for."
Offense hasn't been an issue for the Americans, the
highest-scoring team in the tournament. But the defense was
inconsistent during group play, and that's why Sunday's game was so
The U.S. limited the Australians to 41 percent shooting,
including 24 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Australia
committed 24 turnovers, many the result of pressure.
"We know that if we play defense, we'll be pretty good," Bosh
said. "We know we can score the ball. We know we play with anybody
offensively. But we know it's our defense that's going to help us
Defense may help the U.S. win the championship. But the
Australians couldn't help but be dazzled by the Americans' attack.
Australian point guard C.J. Bruton likened this team to Dream
Teams I and II.
"It's a squad compared to them because they move the ball like
those teams did," Bruton said. "The teams that have won the gold
medal for U.S.A. definitely move the ball as well as this team."
They move it well. And on Sunday they shot it even better.
The Americans shot 54 percent from the floor. And after shooting
39 percent from beyond the arc in group play, the U.S. made
14-of-27 (52 percent) Sunday.
Even Bosh and Brad Miller hit their first international
3-pointers. Three-point shooting was supposed to be one of the
Americans' flaws. If the U.S. starts knocking down long-range
shots, it will be difficult to beat.
The U.S. has trailed after halftime in one game, against Italy,
which it beat 94-85. Wade was asked if the Americans were tempted
to look toward the finals and a possible showdown with Argentina or
Spain, both also 6-0.
"You don't really think about it," Wade said. "You just win
or go home. We just need to get better as a team."
Better? Look out, world.