LAS VEGAS -- The U.S. men's basketball team already is short on size, and one of its biggest and most athletic players will miss the Olympics because of a torn meniscus in his left knee.
Clippers power forward Blake Griffin felt discomfort in his knee after Wednesday's practice and flew back to Los Angeles to undergo an MRI and get examined by team doctors. They found a tear and surgery will be required, but the Clippers said Griffin will be ready when training camp opens in the fall.
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It's the same knee that Griffin sprained during the postseason, although he didn't miss any games, and the same knee that was surgically repaired and forced him to miss his rookie season in 2009-10. "It's a very big blow for us,'' said Kobe Bryant, Griffin's Olympic teammate.
Hornets rookie power forward/center Anthony Davis replaced Griffin Thursday night as the U.S. team trounced the John Calipari-coached Dominican Republic, 113-59, in an exhibition game. Davis -- who teamed with Calipari to win the national championship at Kentucky last season -- originally was left off the 12-man roster and has been slowed by an ankle sprain. But he had nine points in 10 minutes and is expected to replace Griffin on the Olympic team.
The U.S. team has only two other power forwards and centers: Knicks center Tyson Chandler and Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love. Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and LaMarcus Aldridge withdrew from competition this summer because of injury and Lamar Odom backed out to begin training for next season.
The lack of size could hurt the U.S. against a team such as Spain, which boasts Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka up front. But the U.S. isn't concerned because of its depth, athleticism and versatility. LeBron James can play power forward and Durant has the length to guard big players.
The U.S. team will play four more exhibition games before beginning its quest for the gold medal in London on July 29 against France.