Team USA shows how good it can be in 54-point exhibition victory

United States Olympic men's basketball team member Kobe

United States Olympic men's basketball team member Kobe Bryant (10) guards the Dominican Republic's Gerardo Suero during an exhibition game. (July 12, 2012) (Credit: AP)

LAS VEGAS -- The United States men's basketball team is going to play much tougher competition when the Olympics starts. But no team in London will have the depth, athleticism and versatility the U.S. has.

Team USA demonstrated that Thursday night, routing the John Calipari-coached Dominican Republic, 113-59, in an exhibition game at Thomas & Mack Center.

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant came off the bench and led Team USA with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Another reserve, Andre Iguodala, added 18. The two totaled 9-for-12 shooting from three-point range against a Dominican team that didn't make the Olympics.



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It was a good start, but U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said the road gets more difficult from here.

"There are a lot of good teams out there," Krzyzewski said. "The Dominican Republic is good, but they've just been eliminated. They're not fighting for something. Once you get to the Olympics, everybody is fighting for something. So you're going to see something different."

The U.S., which won the gold medal in 2008, isn't expected to lose, even with injuries forcing Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and now Blake Griffin to miss out on these games.

Krzyzewski started Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James Thursday night. When Chandler -- the only center on the roster -- went to the bench, Durant came in, giving the U.S. an unstoppable lineup.

Bryant, James and Durant have won six of the last seven NBA scoring titles, Anthony is a prolific scorer and Paul is one of the league's top point guards. Nets guard Deron Williams replaced Paul in the second half, and the U.S. didn't skip a beat.

"That's a lineup we want to get going fast and quick," Anthony said. "We know how to rebound the basketball. It's just a matter of getting the ball and getting out in transition and making something happen."

Because Chandler is the only center on the roster, the U.S. will rely on having its players contribute at multiple positions. Anthony, James and Durant guarded power forwards and centers throughout the game.

Anthony was the only starter to reach double figures with 13 points. Chandler had seven, matching James' total, and grabbed five rebounds. Williams had six points and 10 assists.

Having interchangeable parts is going to be an advantage when the United States faces the stronger teams such as Spain, France and Argentina. It's going to be difficult to guard the United States, and with the shorter three-point shot in Olympic competition, players such as Durant and Kevin Love could flourish.

Durant got rolling right away, shooting 5-for-5, including 3-for-3 from three-point range, and scoring 13 points in the first quarter. He outscored the Dominican Republic by one point in the quarter, which ended with the U.S ahead 26-12. The advantage jumped to 23 in the second quarter, ballooned to 40 and just kept growing.

"I was pleased with our unselfishness and the defensive intensity," Krzyzewski said. "We really shared the ball and we got a lot of minutes for everybody."

The U.S opened training camp here last Friday. The team will fly to Washington on Friday for a couple of practices and an exhibition game against Brazil on Monday. From there, the U.S. will go to England and Spain and will play exhibition games against Great Britain, Argentina and Spain.

Team USA will begin its defense of the gold medal against France on July 29.

"This is where the journey starts," Anthony said. "I said this was kind of a statement game for us as a team to see where we're at out there."

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