ESPN: Kobe Bryant provided the offense in the U.S. Olympic basketball team’s first defensive struggle.
Bryant scored 19 points, Carmelo Anthony added 17, and the Americans beat Russia 89-68 Sunday in what was by far their most competitive tuneup yet for the Beijing Games.
The United States had been scoring 118 points per game while winning its first three exhibitions by an average of 41 points. Russia allowed far fewer fast-break baskets than the previous U.S. opponents, successfully keeping the game in the halfcourt and forcing the Americans to run more offensive sets.
That was fine with Bryant, who scored 12 points after halftime in his highest-scoring game so far.
Dwyane Wade continued his strong play off the bench with 16 points for the Americans, who play their final exhibition game here Tuesday against Australia.
Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko scored 18 points and American point guard J.R. Holden added 17 for the European champions.
The defensive tone of the game brought an early entrance of Tayshaun Prince, who had played little in the first three games. Kirilenko had an early block on Anthony’s shot, but the Americans pulled away to a 29-17 advantage on Deron Williams‘ 3-pointer with about 4 seconds left.