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U.S. team isn't neighborly to Canada

Anthony again leads the charge with 25 points as the unbeaten Americans keep on rolling, 113-63.

August 26, 2007|Mark Heisler | Times Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Next on the list: Woe, Canada.

Three games into the Tournament of the Americas, the question isn't whether anyone can beat the U.S. but whether anyone can come within 20 points.

The closest U.S. game so far was its 43-point opening-night victory over Venezuela, which looked like a wipeout until the next night, when the Americans beat the Virgin Islands by 64.

Canada actually mounted a rally Saturday, cutting a 28-14 deficit to 28-21 at the end of the first quarter. But that just seemed to upset the U.S., which outscored the Canadians 85-42 the rest of the way to win, 113-63.

Next up for the U.S. is Brazil, which is also 3-0 with NBA stars Leandro Barbosa and Nene and looms as the first test -- assuming the U.S. will be tested, here or anywhere.

"The United States has been dominating their opponents in the first quarter," Canada Coach Leo Rautins said. "We said, 'We can't lose the game in the first quarter.' We did a good job of being close and executing, and then they killed us in the second quarter. . . .

"I'll tell you, this U.S. team is unbelievably talented and what I'm impressed with, they play together. These guys really play well together."

Without its best players, Steve Nash and Jamaal Magloire, Canada had only Philadelphia 76ers center Samuel Dalembert and a roster of full of past and present U.S. college players.

Nevertheless, Canadians are used to competing against U.S. players and have long dreamed of shocking their world. Rautins was a star at Syracuse and a first-round draft pick in the NBA. Forward Olu Famutimi was a high school McDonald's All-American in 2003 alongside LeBron James and Chris Paul and played two seasons at Arkansas.

Famutimi's career was slowed by a knee injury he suffered as a high school senior, but Saturday he showed flashes of what he was, making three three-point shots and scoring 11 points in the first quarter, leading Canada back into the game, however briefly.

At that point, the second unit of Amare Stoudemire, Michael Redd, Mike Miller, Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince jumped all over the Canadians, holding them without a basket for the first 6 minutes 16 seconds of the second quarter and outscoring them, 30-6.

"It's tough to turn it off and turn it on," Billups said. "Our strategy is we just want to keep it on the whole time and not embarrass anybody and play with a lot of respect and dignity, but at the same time do what we do, and that's play hard the entire game."

Carmelo Anthony led all scorers, as he has in all three games, with 25 points. Redd, the shooter the U.S. had been missing, made five more three-point shots in 10 attempts, making him 12 for 24 in the tournament.

The U.S. is averaging 118 points in the 40-minute games. Despite running away from all three opponents by halftime, its defense has been just as impressive, holding opponents to 31% from the field.

"I think there's a great deal of pride and professionalism on the court," Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "A lot of these guys have not been celebrated for their defense. They've been celebrated for their offense.

"And defense really gets us going together. Our defense is very, very good right now. The more we play, the better the talk is. They talk to each other out there, and it looks as if they're playing as one."

So far, it has been against small fry. Now let's see if there's anyone out there on their level.

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mark.heisler@latimes.com

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