United States 118, Australia 77
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Charles Barkley and Shane Heal shared a hug after the game. When they posed together for a photo 30 minutes later, they laughed everything off, in sharp contrast to what happened during the game.
Barkley and Heal nearly came to blows during the first half of the Dream Team’s 118-77 exhibition victory Friday night as Heal was stealing the show with a great display of 3-point shooting.
``I wasn’t going to hit him. I don’t hit people unless it’s late at night,″ Barkley said. ``If I wanted to hurt him, I could have.″
A split-second after Heal nailed his fourth 3-pointer, Barkley ran into him as Heal landed on his feet. Heal lowered his shoulder and bumped Barkley as they ran upcourt, and the two exchanged angry words.
``I fouled him, but then he started calling me names. He didn’t have to do that, and I’m not going to accept that,″ Barkley said.
Seconds later, when a timeout was called, Heal and Barkley scrapped at midcourt and had to be separated by the referees. Barkley had a fistful of Heal’s jersey and refused to let go.
``We’ve grown up respecting those guys, but we won’t back down from anybody,″ said Heal, who was 8-for-13 on 3-pointers and 10-for-17 overall as he scored 28 points _ the most by any opponent in the Olympic team’s four exhibition games.
``I think they appreciated that we stood up to them. They respected us for that,″ Hale said.
The second half was free of violence and had less rough play, and there were no hard feelings by the time the final buzzer sounded.
Reggie Miller led the U.S. team with 19 points on 6-for-6 shooting. Shaquille O’Neal had 18 points, while Mitch Richmond added 16 and Karl Malone 14. The United States shot 58 percent and had 13 dunks _ almost half as many as they had in their last game against China.
The final stop on the Olympic team’s exhibition tour is Sunday at Indianapolis against Greece.
Playing on the Utah Jazz’s home court, the game was supposed to belong to Malone and John Stockton. But when the fans saw Heal shoting from as far as 30 feet away _ and making most of his attempts _ they started buzzing every time he touched the ball.
``He was the best player on the floor for their team,″ Barkley said of Heal.
Barkley wasn’t the only one to have a run-in with Heal.
The U.S. team managed to isolate Barkley on Heal late in the first half, and Barkley converted a three-point play. That inspired Gary Payton to talk 30 seconds of non-stop trash in Heal’s face, prompting a string of expletives from Heal.
``He was yapping his mouth, and I told him he didn’t need to be doing that,″ Payton said.
``I’d pay to see him and Payton go at it,″ Barkley said.
In another altercation less than 10 minutes into the game, Malone and Andrew Vlahov, who played at Stanford, exchanged elbows while boxing out, then stared each other down to draw the refs over.
``The Australian guys, they didn’t care who we were. They came ready to play and they weren’t going to back down _ and that’s why it flared up,″ Stockton said.
The emotions calmed down in the second half, and the United States was able to open up the game more than it could in the first half. A 43-14 run included four dunks, three layups and three 3-pointers as the Dream Team opened a 45-point lead.
Andrew Gaze, who played at Seton Hall, finished with 11 points for Australia.