Williams, Anthony lead U.S. to victory

Thursday, July 19, 2012 5:49 PM
Last updated 10:00 PM
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MANCHESTER, England — Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams responded to a lineup change with 19 points apiece, and the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team beat Britain 118-78 on Thursday in an exhibition game.

LeBron James added 16 points and Russell Westbrook had 15 for the Americans, who built a 40-point lead early in the fourth quarter against their inexperienced and overmatched opponent, and every basket from there seemed to be a dunk.

U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski changed up his starting lineup, inserting Kevin Durant for Anthony, and Williams for Chris Paul, and both Anthony and Williams flourished in their new roles.

Williams, who couldn’t scrimmage with the Americans when they opened camp because he hadn’t signed his $98 million extension with the Nets yet, made 7-of-8 shots, going 5 of 6 from 3-point range and adding five assists.

Anthony came in for Durant in the first quarter <0x2014> apparently unnoticed to the PA announcer, who credited Durant with the Knicks forward’s first basket <0x2014> and shook off the change well after being a starter in three previous years with the national team and both exhibitions this year. He rebounded from a poor game in Washington by shooting 8 of 10 from the field.

Chicago Bulls All-Star Luol Deng scored 25 points for Britain.

Britain’s home game was similar to the Americans’ opener against China in the Beijing Olympics, where plays for both teams were loudly cheered. The boos were brief, when a light “USA!” chant broke out in the fourth quarter.

Basketball has little place in British sports, but with the national team returning to the Olympics this year as the games’ host, the sport got some attention with a visit from the powerful U.S. squad.

In an unusual pregame scene, the crowd didn’t seem interested in the home team’s strange set of pregame warm-up exercises, choosing instead to watch the Americans’ practice dunks, oohing and aahing along the way.

The rules of the game were then written shown on the overhead video scoreboard and explained by the public address announcer before play began.

The British, also including the Portland Trail Blazers’ Joel Freeland and coached by Houston Rockets assistant Chris Finch, hung with the Americans for 10-plus minutes before the visitors’ athleticism ran them off the floor.

Coming off a tough test against Brazil in an 80-69 victory Monday in Washington in which they trailed by 10 after one quarter, the Americans led by only three inside 1 1/2 minutes left in the opening period. They closed with 10 straight points, with Anthony nailing consecutive 3-pointers that made it 33-20.

Krzyzewski went with an explosive lineup of Durant, Kobe Bryant, James and Anthony <0x2014> four of the NBA’s top six scorers <0x2014> and Paul late in the second quarter, and James scored twice on feeds from Anthony and set up Durant for another basket in an 8-0 spurt that extended a 10-point lead to 18, and the game was never close again. The U.S. led by as much as 47.

This was possibly the Americans’ last easy game before London, with exhibitions remaining in Barcelona against 2008 bronze medalist Argentina and Spain, the team they beat in the gold-medal game four years ago.

TENNIS: Defending champion Rafael Nadal pulled out of the London Olympics on Thursday with an undisclosed injury, leaving the tennis competition without one of its leading stars and robbing Spain’s team of its flag bearer for the opening ceremony.

Nadal won the French Open for a record seventh time this year but has struggled with left knee problems at times during the season. Shortly after winning his 11th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, he lost to 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon.

Nadal has not played since.

The third-ranked Nadal said Thursday he wasn’t in condition to compete at the Olympic tennis tournament <0x2014> which also will be held at Wimbledon.

“This is one of the saddest moments of my career,” Nadal said in a statement. “I have to think about my companions, I can’t be selfish and I have to think of what’s best for Spanish sport, especially tennis and Spanish players, and give fellow sportsmen with better preparation the chance to compete.

“I tried to hurry my preparations and training to the very last minute, but it was not to be.”

The 26-year-old Spaniard has won two Wimbledon titles and claimed gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“You can imagine how difficult it was to take this decision,” he said.

Nadal had been the last of the four singles finalists from 2008 in the London Olympics. Men’s silver medal winner Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, who Nadal beat in straight sets in Beijing, and women’s finalists Elena Dementieva and Dinara Safina of Russia, will also be missing from the London Games.

Nadal did not mention a specific injury in his statement but he canceled a charity match in Madrid on July 4 because of tendon problems in his left knee. He has had recurring knee problems in the past.

“I am not in condition to compete in the London Olympics and therefore will not travel as planned with the Spanish delegation to take part in the games,” Nadal said. “(This) is one of the saddest days of my career as one of my biggest ambitions, that of being Spain’s flag bearer in the opening ceremony of the games in London, cannot be.”

It wasn’t immediately known who would replace Nadal on Spain’s tennis team or who would carry the flag at the opening ceremony in his place.

Nadal’s absence leaves top-ranked Roger Federer of Switzerland and No. 2 Novak Djokovic of Serbia as the favorites, although Wimbledon runner-up Andy Murray of Britain will again likely have a wave of home support as he tries to reach the final at the All England Club for the second time in less than a month.

Murray lost to Federer in the Wimbledon final on July 8. The tennis gold medal match at the Olympics will take place on the same Centre Court on Aug. 5.

Both the men’s and women’s doubles champions are set to defend their Olympic titles in London, however. Federer and Switzerland teammate Stanislas Wawrinka are the men’s defending champions, while American sisters Venus and Serena Williams won gold in the women’s doubles in Beijing.


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