LAS VEGAS -- Some dreams really are impossible. For the Virgin Islands, matched against the U.S. national team, it was over years ago when Tim Duncan moved to the mainland.
Showing the Americans can shoot, some nights at least, the U.S. romped, 123-59, Thursday night to go to 2-0 in the Tournament of the Americas behind Carmelo Anthony and Michael Redd, who led all scorers with 22 points apiece.
If the U.S. is yet to be tested in this tournament, and may not be, it has still been impressive, winning its two games by a combined 235-128.
Appropriate to the drama or lack thereof, only a sprinkling of fans watched in Thomas & Mack Center. The U.S. intrasquad scrimmage in July drew 15,000 and was televised by Fox. The first two games of this tournament have been on ESPN Classic.
"We out-talented these two teams," said Coach Mike Krzyzewski, "but we think we out-worked them, too. . . .
"Last year's team was great but we're more talented. We're older. And the guys who were on our team are a year older. Dwight Howard is a better player. LeBron James is a better player. Carmelo Anthony is a better player."
The Americans, who have struggled against zone defenses, shot up the Virgin Islands, making eight three-point baskets. . . in the first quarter. . . and 15 altogether.
Redd, the left-handed Milwaukee Bucks sharpshooter added to address that problem, made three three-pointers in the first quarter, coming off the bench when Kobe Bryant got in early foul trouble and scoring his first 15 points in a spurt that lasted 3:31.
Duncan, the Virgin Islands' greatest player, ultimately played for the U.S. national teams in 2003 and 2004, although he sat out the 2003 game against his homeland.
"It's a great experience for our team," said Jim Harrick, the former UCLA coach who is now an assistant on the Virgin Islands staff. "Most of these guys played college ball in the States and are playing overseas."
Unlike Venezuela, which looked awed, the Virgin Islands took it right to the U.S. at the start, with forward Kitwana Rhymer scoring two early baskets, and putting Bryant on the bench with two fouls in the first 3:45.
Redd then made a 17-footer and three three-pointers in the space of five possessions as the U.S. went on a 17-0 run, scored 28 of the last 32 points in the first quarter and took a 42-13 lead to put another game away early.
"To anticipate one of your questions, what do you get out of a game like this?" said Krzyzewski. "One, you get the win. Two, you get to see if your team is focused throughout. . . . "
It's early yet but two days into it, the U.S. has been focused throughout.