LeBron James eyed Shawn Marion's pass coming toward him and made a split-second decision to redirect the ball. One nifty touch pass later, Dwyane Wade
converted it into a layup.
The basket broke the last tie and began a game-changing 10-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter, leading the Americans to a 89-79 victory over
Australia on Thursday at the Athens Games.
The win might have gone a long way toward reversing the fortunes of the much-maligned U.S. team, which struggled in a victory over Greece and was
embarrassed in a loss to Puerto Rico in the opener.
After a defensively inept first half and a so-so third quarter, the Americans increased their defensive intensity against the Aussies, moved the ball
with aplomb and put together a few of the showtime moments their Olympic predecessors took for granted.
On Day 6 of the games, perhaps they finally arrived.
Tim Duncan scored 18 points, Allen Iverson and Marion each added 16 and Wade scored 12 for the U.S. team, which shot 39-for-68 from the field.
The Americans also kept their turnovers down, found better shots than in their first two games and realized that the only way to fuel their offense is
The United States forced four misses and a turnover on Australia's first five possessions of the fourth quarter, and its ball moment was fluid and
flashy during the run that put them ahead 75-67.
Australia, led by Shane Heal's 17 points, never threatened again.
Despite a poor start, the Americans were finally able to run their offense through Duncan in the low post, but their defensive rotations were slow and
they repeatedly left players open at the 3-point line.
Coach Larry Brown could only shake his head as Glen Saville sank the Aussies' fifth 3-pointer of the first quarter for a 24-18 lead, and the United
States was down by 12 before the period was over.
The Americans' reluctance to attempt a 3-pointer was clear late in the second quarter when James hesitated so much before releasing the shot that the
ball never even made it to the rim.
Wade and Iverson drove coast to coast for layups late in the half to help the Americans pull within 51-47 at the break, but Duncan picked up two fouls
in the final minute of the second quarter.
Brown went with Marion instead of Richard Jefferson to start a second half that began with Duncan's third foul just 31 seconds in. But Duncan remained
on the court and played foul-free for the rest of the quarter.
The Americans took their first lead since the early going on an alley-oop dunk by Marion off a pass from Iverson that made it 61-60 with 4:38 left.
A late 3-pointer by Brett Maher gave Australia a 67-65 lead entering the fourth quarter.