James, Anthony lead U.S. to another convincing winAug 29, 2007 - 5:58 AM LAS VEGAS (Ticker) -- Another game, another blowout victory for the United States basketball team at the FIBA Americas Championship. This victory, however, had some minor significance.
LeBron James scored a game-high 21 points and Carmelo Anthony added 17 as the Americans on Tuesday night punched their ticket to the semifinals of this Olympic qualifying tournament with a 117-78 win over Puerto Rico.
The top two teams earn berths in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.
Of late, Puerto Rico had had success against the Americans, posting victories at the 2004 Olympics and again last summer at the World Championships in Japan. However, the U.S. did not let recent history get in the way.
"We didn't bring up Athens at all," U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Puerto Rico has always planned well against the United States."
The United States (5-0) blew open the game with a 35-12 spurt in the second quarter and, just like in its previous five contests, went through the motions for the remainder of the night.
"Today, we went against a team that is superior to us," Puerto Rico coach Manolo Cintron said. "They have the best players from the NBA. Right now, we have a new team and we need to have time to develop into a team that can compete physically."
The U.S. has two games left in the second round, including a showdown with Argentina - the tournament's only other unbeaten team - on Thursday.
Argentina, with NBA players Carlos Delfino of the Toronto Raptors and Luis Scola of the Houston Rockets leading the way, clinched its semifinal spot earlier Tuesay with an 85-70 win over Canada. The game with the United States will determine the top two seeds in the next round and could possibly be a preview of Sunday's title game.
Argentina and the rest of the field could be in for an uphill battle. The Americans' average margin of victory is 42.8 points - a total that could be higher when you consider stars James, Anthony and Kobe Bryant normally spend the fourth quarter at the end of the bench with ice bags on their knees.
Long-range specialist Michael Redd of the Milwaukee Bucks scored 15 points off the bench despite struggling on 3-pointers. He went 1-for-8, and the Americans shot a dismal 7-for-33 from the arc.
Bryant scored 14 points, including 11 in the second-quarter outburst, and Amare Stoudemire of Phoenix added 12. The Suns center even hit one of his team's 3-pointers.
"Some people may be surprised that I made that shot," Stoudemire said. "But I do shoot that occasionally to confuse the zone defense. I feel comfortable shooting that shot. Dwight Howard and myself have the opportunity to expose that part of the zone."
Only two players reached double figures for Puerto Rico (1-4), including Luis Reyes, who led the club with 13 points. Its top player, Orlando Magic guard Carlos Arroyo, fouled out with 1:39 to play in the third quarter after collecting 12 points, six rebounds and two assists.
"We tried hard, but you can't go 1-on-1 against that defense," said Puerto Rican forward Ricardo Sanchez, who scored seven points. "It was a difficult game for me."
Puerto Rico is in a three-way tie with Mexico and Venezuela for sixth place.
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