Once Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant warmed up, there was no way Venezuela could keep up.
Anthony scored 17 points, Bryant added 14, and the United States rolled to a 112-69 victory last night in its opening game of the FIBA Americas tournament in Las Vegas.
Michael Redd also had 17 points, Amare Stoudemire chipped in 16, and Dwight Howard 12 for the Americans, who improved to 27-0 in the regional Olympic qualifier. The Americans face the US Virgin Islands tonight.
Bryant was making his long-awaited international debut, while Anthony was the leading American scorer last year at the world championships. They needed a little more than a quarter to show they could be a formidable duo.
Jason Kidd and Howard started along with LeBron James, Bryant, and Anthony, the three starters coach Mike Krzyzewski had already named. All 12 players played in the first quarter, which ended with the Americans ahead, 21-8, after some shaky shooting.
Bryant was scoreless and Anthony had only 4 points in the opening period, but they didn't stay quiet for long. Both scored 7 points in a 16-6 spurt early in the second quarter that broke open the game and extended the lead to 39-16 with 5:23 left in the first half.
The Americans led, 54-34, at halftime, and the advantage ballooned into the 30s after the starters outscored Venezuela, 14-2, to open the third quarter.
Mexico 100, Puerto Rico 89 -- Victor Mariscal netted 30 points, and Mexico used the pressing defense preferred by new coach Nolan Richardson to pull away after Puerto Rico had rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit.
Led by Richardson, the former Arkansas coach, Mexico forced Puerto Rico into 27 turnovers (15 in the first half) and held Orlando Magic guard Carlos Arroyo to 4 points on 0-for-10 shooting.
Puerto Rico guard Jose Juan Barea, a former Northeastern star who plays for the Dallas Mavericks, was suspended two games by FIBA for cursing at referees after fouling out late in the third quarter. He won't be eligible to return until Puerto Rico's final game of pool play Saturday.
Brazil 75, Canada 67 -- Phoenix Suns guard Leandro Barbosa scored 30 points, hitting two free throws and a floater in the final minutes to help Brazil prevail.
Uruguay 88, Panama 84 -- Esteban Batista scored 26 points, including the basket that forced overtime, and Uruguay came back from an 11-point deficit at the break to win the opening game.