U.S. Trounces Germany, 106-57
Dwight Howard sat behind a table with a pair of swimming goggles on his forehead after the United States obliterated Germany, 106-57, to conclude pool play with a 5-0 record. Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps had just finished visiting with the team the day after wrapping up his legendary, eight-gold-medal performance and Howard presented Phelps a challenge in the locker room.
"I told him was going to do the 100-meter medley next year," Howard said, flashing a smile.
Howard and his teammates might need to start looking for new challenges, because the Olympic basketball competition hasn't provided much.
It may have seemed like a meaningless game Monday against an incredibly inferior opponent. The U.S. had already wrapped up the top seed in Group B for the quarterfinals and Germany was headed home afterward because it failed to qualify for the medal round. But the Americans are playing with a greater purpose to improve each game in order to be at their best when they are playing for a gold medal. Their record and the opponent are irrelevant.
"The main thing is staying motivated and trying to accomplish one goal and that's winning a gold medal," said Howard, who led five players in double figures with 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
So with that, the U.S. annihilated another opponent before entering the single elimination medal round. The Americans (5-0) will open against Australia, which tested them in an exhibition in Shanghai - losing only by 11 points - and is riding high after beating Group A top seed Lithuania, 106-75, on Monday. But if the U.S. continues to play like it has in its past three games against Greece, Spain and Germany, it won't matter how well the opposition is playing - because it won't come close to what the Americans can do when they are at the top of their game.
The Americans have won their first five games by an average of 32.2 points - the best point differential since the original Dream Team beat opponents by 43.8 points in 1992. The 1996 team won eight games by 31.7 points.
The U.S. scored the first eight points of the game and led 23-5 before Germany even realized they were playing a game. Howard scored eight of the first 16 points for the U.S., catching a lob from Jason Kidd for a dunk, swooping down the lane to dunk another Kidd pass and taking an underhand feed from Kobe Bryant for another rim-rocking jam. He finished 9-for-10 from the floor, with all of his points coming from dunks and free throws.
Through the first four games, the U.S. created offense by forcing turnovers and getting out on the break. The Germans held onto the ball for the most part, but they couldn't hit shots, with the Americans contesting most of their looks. And, the U.S. was able to score at will - going inside with Howard and anyone else who wanted to drive inside, and outside with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, who combined to hit seven of the Americans' 11 three-pointers.
James had 18 points and Bryant had 13 for the U.S., which saw all 12 players get on the scoreboard when Michael Redd had an alley-oop dunk with 32 seconds remaining.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 14 points for Germany and left with 3 minutes, 23 seconds of the third period to a standing ovation. He saluted the crowd by raising his hands to rafters, but his team trailed 78-39 at the time.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Chris Kaman, an American who received German citizenship last July, was asked after the game what it would take to beat the U.S. Kaman, who finished with six points for Germany, rolled his eyes and said, "No one's going to beat them."
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