SAPPORO, Japan -- As his team left the locker room at halftime trailing Italy by 9 points, captain Dwyane Wade broke into song.
``I was walking out and everybody was quiet and I just started singing something that came to mind," Wade said last night. ``I just came off the NBA Finals, where my team had been down a lot [two games to none]. I don't ever worry about being down. And I don't want my teammates to worry about it, either."
After the game, Wade couldn't remember what he sang. But it proved to be the right tune, with the Americans surging back to beat Italy, 94-85, in the FIBA world championships.
The US rallied behind Carmelo Anthony, whose 35 points were the most by an American in the world championships. Kenny Anderson set the previous record of 34 in 1990.
Anthony scored 29 of his points in 19 electrifying minutes in the second half.
``I think I got it going after a tip-in from the free throw line," he said. ``I knew once my outside shot was going, it was going to open it up for my inside driving."
Wade scored 26 points and Elton Brand added 16 as the US clinched Group D. That means the US will avoid Argentina or Spain, two of the tournament's powers, until the final. The Americans will play the fourth-place team in Group C Sunday.
Marco Bellinelli led Italy with 25 points, while Fabio Di Bella and Stefano Mancinelli each added 12.
After routing three overmatched opponents, the Americans were prepared for a tough test from Italy, the group's only other unbeaten team. But they didn't know how tough.
``I would say tougher than expected," Brand said. ``Because if you ask me if I expected to be down 9 points at halftime, I would say no."
The Americans were lucky to be that close. Their offense, which had averaged a tournament-high 115.3 points, was sluggish from the start.
The US shot 39 percent in the first half, including 33 percent from 3-point range. The Americans also were dreadful from the foul line, hitting 63 percent (12 for 19).
The defense wasn't much better. Every time the US tried to pressure the Italians, the ball would end up in a wide-open shooter's hands. Italy shot 58 percent in the first half, including 72 percent from inside the arc.
Searching for an answer, US coach Mike Krzyzewski decided to scrap his two five-man platoons and put captains Wade, Anthony, and LeBron James on the floor at the same time, along with Brand and point guard Chris Paul. Wade, Anthony, and James rarely played together during the first three games.
``The team kind of sensed that we needed some kind of spark," James said. ``Coach made an adjustment at halftime, and it was a great adjustment. We play well together because, for one, we don't have any egos. We know each other's games, so it worked pretty good."
Bellinelli opened the second half with a 3-point play to put Italy up, 48-36. Then the US blitzed the Italians, outscoring them, 25-6. Anthony and Wade scored 21 of those points.
In other games yesterday, Fadi El Khatib had 29 points to lead Lebanon (2-2) to a 74-73 upset of France in Group A. Joseph Vogel's free throw with 23 seconds left gave Lebanon a 74-72 lead. Boris Diaw of the Phoenix Suns pulled France (2-2) to 74-73 with a free throw, but he missed the second . . . Chicago Bulls forward Andres Nocioni was 5 for 5 from 3-point range and scored 23 points to lead Argentina (4-0) past Nigeria, 98-64 . . . Darko Milicic of the Orlando Magic had 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 blocks to lead Serbia and Montenegro (2-2), the defending champions, past Venezuela, 90-65 . . . In Group B, Pau Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies had 28 points and Spain (4-0) stayed unbeaten with a 93-83 win over Angola (3-1) . . . Dirk Nowitzki had 25 points and 13 rebounds for Germany (3-1), which advanced with an 81-63 win over Panama . . . In Group C, Greece (4-0) stayed perfect with a 91-80 win over Brazil (1-3) . . . In Group D, Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets scored 26 points as China (1-3) came up with its first win, 100-83, over Senegal. Jules Aw scored 19 points for Senegal (0-4), which closes the opening round against the US . . . Slovenia (2-2) opened the game with a 19-3 run and downed Puerto Rico, 90-82.