US Basketball 119, China 72
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Foul trouble made the ``Great Wall″ crumble, and the United States overran China once the height difference was gone.
China actually held a six-point lead in the early going, but its three of big men picked up four fouls apiece in the first 18 1/2 minutes to end whatever slim chance it had in a 119-72 loss to the U.S. men’s basketball team Sunday.
For the limited time they were on the floor together, 7-footers Wang Zhizhi and Yao Ming made things a bit difficult for the U.S. team. But Wang, a second-round draft pick of the Dallas Mavericks in 1999, did little after drawing four whistles in the first 5 1/2 minutes, and Yao fouled out with 18:50 left in the second half.
Ray Allen had several highlight-reel dunks en route to 21 points, Vince Carter had 16, Tim Hardaway and Steve Smith added 12 each and Vin Baker 11 for the Americans, who did as they pleased for most of the game to open Olympic competition with a runaway victory.
Much like four years ago when the Americans beat China by 63 points, the talent difference between the teams was huge. This time, though, the Chinese had a brief moment of glory by scoring 13 of the first 20 points behind the talents of their giants.
Carter made his first dunk less than two minutes into the game for a 5-3 lead, but then it was a chance for Wang and Yao to show their stuff. Yao rejected Carter’s next drive, leading to a fast break layup by Wang, and Wang added a 3-pointer moments later to make it 12-7.
Yao, listed by FIBA as 7-foot-5, made a foul shot for a 13-7 lead before order was restored to the basketball world.
Kevin Garnett had an alley-oop dunk to get the U.S. team rolling, and Allen made a 3-pointer to give the Americans a 17-16 lead with 14:15 left. By then, Wang had already picked up his fourth foul on a push-off under the basket.
China’s other big man, Menkbater, went to the bench with four fouls with 3:20 left in the half, and Yao picked up his fourth less than two minutes later. Of China’s 14 fouls in the first half, 12 were called against the three big men who are known in their country as the ``Walking Great Wall.″
The Americans built their lead to 60-38 by halftime despite two missed alley-oop dunks by Carter, and the second half was devoid of suspense as the Americans padded their lead and surpassed the 100-point mark with 6:36 left.
Wang led China with 13 points.
Carter, Allen and Garnett put on a show when the U.S. team came out for warmups, lobbing alley-oop passes to themselves and throwing down a succession of high-velocity dunks. Garnett was especially animated, hopping and bopping around the court with unbridled youthful exuberance.
Coach Rudy Tomjanovich went with a starting lineup of Carter, Kidd, Mourning, Payton and Garnett, but it would be more than 5 1/2 minutes before the Americans went ahead to stay.
Allan Houston (jammed wrist) did not play for the U.S. team, which will face Italy on Tuesday.