Washington Post: The ever-present focus and intensity that defined the United States men’s basketball team as it steamrolled through the preliminary round of the FIBA Americas Championship was evident only in spurts Monday against Mexico.
The Americans still won in blowout fashion, 127-100, but often appeared uninterested as the second round of this Olympic qualifying tournament began. Carmelo Anthony again led the team in scoring with 28 points. Kobe Bryant had 21, and LeBron James and Dwight Howard had 19 apiece, but the United States failed to win by at least 40 points for the first time.
Before the game, U.S. Coach Mike Krzyzewski greeted a familiar foe with a huge hug before the game began. Nolan Richardson, the former Arkansas coach who is leading the Mexican national team, had the highlight of his career against Krzyzewski, defeating Duke for the 1994 NCAA championship. He has brought his “40 minutes of hell” philosophy to Mexico, and his team stayed within 20 points for most of the game before falling into purgatory.
Mexico got within 15-11 in the first quarter, but the United States closed out the period on a 30-12 run that featured seven dunks — including three each by Anthony and Howard — and two three-pointers.
But the Americans’ intensity level dropped considerably in the second period, and they appeared to become complacent in anticipation of an inevitable romp. They got caught up playing one-on-one and forced tough shots on offense and surrendered easy baskets on defense.