SEOUL, South Korea -- With Carmelo Anthony back at full
strength, the United States had little trouble with Lithuania.
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
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
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