Olympic Basketball Scoreboard: United States 77, Greece 71

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Tim Duncan had fouled out, Allen Iverson was playing with a broken thumb, and Greece had a chance to pull within two points with 18 seconds left.

Lamar Odom defended the play perfectly for the Americans, keeping his hand high and preventing Dimitris Pipanikoulaou from getting a clean layup attempt. Odom, playing despite severe dehydration, rebounded the miss and made two free throws to lock up the U.S. team's 77-71 victory Tuesday night in its second game of the Olympics.

In a much closer contest than expected, the Americans bounced back from their embarrassing loss to Puerto Rico in their opener and avoided dropping to 0-2, which would have matched their loss total from the previous 68 years.

The U.S. team got the win because of big plays from Odom and Carlos Boozer down the stretch after Duncan fouled out and Iverson cooled off following a strong start.

The game was a spectacle in many ways, from the Greek fans waving blue and white flags to U.S. coach Larry Brown angrily gesturing at the referees. A close game such as this was rare in previous Olympics, but now it appears to be something the Americans should get used to.

Iverson scored 17 points, 13 of them in the first half, and Duncan had 13 of his 14 points in a third quarter in which he picked up three fouls, setting the stage for a tight fourth quarter.

It was 64-61 when Duncan returned with 5:46 left, and 67-63 when he fouled out about two minutes later on a questionable loose-ball foul call that left him staring in disbelief and Brown pointing in anger at the official.

Odom and Stephon Marbury scored inside to give the Americans some breathing room, though a drive by Antonis Fotsis made it a four-point game with 1:10 left.

Boozer then came up with the Americans' biggest field goal of the night, rebounding Shawn Marion's missed 3-pointer from the corner and banking it in for a 74-68 lead.

A 3-pointer by Greece made it 75-71, and Boozer missed a pair of free throws to give Greece a chance to get within two. But Odom wouldn't let it happen, and a turnover by Greece after Odom's free throws with 15.5 seconds left ended the suspense.

Iverson scored nine of the Americans' 18 points in the first quarter, but Greece kept it close by collapsing two defenders on Duncan to keep him from attempting even a single shot.

LeBron James had three fast-break dunks in the first five minutes of the second quarter as part of a 10-2 run that put the Americans ahead 29-19. James added a short bank shot on another fast break to get the lead up to 12, but Brown removed him in favor of Iverson moments later, and Greece scored the next six points and trailed just 37-31 at the half.

Duncan did not attempt a field goal until 80 seconds had elapsed in the third quarter, and he picked up his second and third fouls in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the second half as Greece came back and took a 40-39 lead.

Brown was visibly irritated after Marbury missed everything on a long 3-point attempt, though he was nowhere near as angry as Duncan was when a referee whistled him for his fourth foul on what appeared to be a clean blocked shot with 1:43 left in the third.

Greece scored the final five points of the third quarter and trailed only 57-53 entering the fourth, then had a run of eight unanswered points to pull to 62-61 with 6:20 left.

By Chris Sheridan
Aug 17, 2004
© Copyright 2004-2005 www.miamifootball365.com

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