SEOUL -- Good news for the United States as the world championships approach: Carmelo Anthony is at full strength and the team is playing tough defense.
Both elements were evident yesterday in a 111-88 victory over Lithuania in a tuneup for the worlds, which begin Saturday in Sapporo, Japan. The Americans are 4-0 in exhibitions leading to the tournament.
Anthony hyperextended his knee during a win over Brazil last week. The Denver Nuggets forward scored 19 points against Lithuania, setting the tone with a slam in the opening minutes that drew a huge ovation.
Kristov Lavrinovic led Lithuania with 26 points. But Lithuania, ranked fourth in the world, hardly looked like the medal contender many expect it to be in Japan.
``Our game plan was to just keep the ball moving," said Anthony, who leads his team in scoring in the four games. ``We know we can score from just about anywhere, so we don't have to wait for a fantastic shot."
Dwyane Wade added 14 points for the US, which placed seven players in double figures. LeBron James and Antawn Jamison added 13, Joe Johnson 12, and Kirk Hinrich and Chris Paul 10 each.
``I thought we played very good defense," US coach Mike Krzyzewski said. ``Lithuania is a strong team and we were able to take them out defensively. I think we got better today by playing an outstanding team."
After an exhibition tomorrow against South Korea, the US will head to Sapporo for its tournament opener against Puerto Rico.
Anthony, Wade, Hinrich, Shane Battier, and Elton Brand started for the US, which brought 14 players to Asia and must cut the roster to 12 before the worlds.
This latest performance was an impressive one for a team quickly adjusting to the wider lanes of international play. The US finished sixth at the worlds in 2002 and third in 1998. The last time the Americans won was 1994.
Wade had 10 points in the first quarter. The Miami Heat guard hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the US a 25-9 lead midway through the opening period. James closed the first half with a 3-pointer before the buzzer to make it 56-32, and the Americans led by 28 after three quarters.
Early in the fourth, James brought the crowd to its feet with a one-handed dunk that made it 87-55. The Cleveland Cavaliers star put the US ahead, 108-78, with another jam with two minutes left.
In another game at the World Basketball Challenge, Stefano Mancinelli's 16 points carried Italy past South Korea, 96-61. Lee Kyu-sup led South Korea (0-3) with 16 points.