This one wasn’t pretty, but a win none the less. Team USA wins 5 straight exibition games… now the real games begin.
ESPN: Undefeated, but no longer unchallenged.
The U.S. Olympic basketball team wrapped up its exhibition schedule with its toughest test, pulling away to beat Australia 87-76 Tuesday night in its final game before heading to Beijing.
The United States led by only four points nearly halfway through the third quarter and was up by seven midway through the fourth against an Australian team that was resting its best player, Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut.
The Americans relied on an aggressive defensive effort to overcome a horrendous night from 3-point range and the free-throw line, the same areas that proved costly in their semifinal loss to Greece in the world championships two years ago.
“I think we made it a little harder on ourselves by not moving the ball around as much,” Dwyane Wade said. “We didn’t make our outside shots tonight as well as we’ve been in the past, but at the end of the day we won the ballgame. We found a way to win.”
Wade scored 22 points and LeBron James had 16 for the Americans, who finished 3-of-18 from 3-point range and 20-of-33 (61 percent) at the foul line.
Patrick Mills and Chris Anstey, who had a first-half altercation with Wade, each scored 13 points for Australia.
“In the third quarter they knocked down some big shots and I think that got them back in the ballgame,” Kobe Bryant said. “And for us, we have to understand that that’s going to happen from time to time and it’s important to keep our poise, keep our composure and buckle down.”
The U.S. team seemed in control after allowing one basket in the final 5½ minutes of the first half to open a 44-29 lead. But the Americans left that defensive intensity in the locker room, allowing a number of open 3-pointers and uncontested drives to the basket.
“We came out lazy,” Wade said.