|Kobe Bryant excelled at both ends of the court as the US improved to 4-0. (LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS)|
US bamboozles Barbosa, Brazil
LAS VEGAS -- With big games from its three biggest stars, first place came impressively for the United States.
LeBron James scored 21 points, Kobe Bryant added 20 and harassed Leandro Barbosa all over the court, and the United States clinched the top spot in its group by beating Brazil, 113-76, last night.
Carmelo Anthony also had 21 for the Americans (4-0), who for the second straight game pulled away by holding their opponent without a field goal for more than six minutes in the second quarter.
The Americans improved to 30-0 in Olympic qualifying games and will open second-round play tonight against Mexico, the fourth-place finisher in Group A.
Bryant led the defensive effort that held Barbosa to just 4 points on 1-of-7 shooting.
"My role here is different here than it is with the Lakers," Bryant said. "We have so many talented players and I don't have to score a lot of points. I just try to do the best I can defensively."
Barbosa entered averaging a tournament-best 27 points. But the Phoenix guard and NBA's top sixth man was on the bench in foul trouble when the US broke open the game in the second quarter.
James, Bryant, and Anthony then combined for the first 19 US points in the second half, turning the game into another romp. The Americans came in beating opponents by 52.3 points per game.
Brazil (3-1) settled for second place in Group B and will face Panama today. The teams with the four best records after second-round play advance to the semifinals. The winners of those two games earn spots in Beijing.
US reserve Tayshaun Prince left the game in the first half after spraining his left ankle and will probably miss a day or two. He will be re-evaluated today.