This Time It’s Wade Leading U.S. Charge
One day Carmelo Anthony leads the U.S. in scoring. The next day it’s Dwyane Wade’s turn.
Wade scored 26 points Sunday night to lead the U.S. to a 121-90 rout of Yao Ming and China, the Americans’ second victory in as many games at the FIBA world championships.
Someone else may lead the way against Slovenia on Tuesday.
This is how the Americans were assembled. Unlike many teams in the world championships, they don’t have to rely on one or two stars to carry the scoring load.
“We have to be unselfish because of the caliber of players that we have,” captain LeBron James said. “There’s no reason for us to be selfish. Guys can make shots. Guys can make plays at any given moment of the game. I go out there to be unselfish and it kind of rubs off on everybody else. That’s the kind of team that we have.”
James averaged 31.4 points a game last season for Cleveland. He’s averaging 13 in the first two games here.
“The dimensions we have on our team, I don’t need to score at all,” said James, who has eight assists in two games.
The Americans have averaged 116 points against lightweights Puerto Rico and China. And they haven’t relied on any single player.
Anthony scored a team-high 21 points in the opening 111-100 victory over Puerto Rico, and nine of the 11 Americans who played scored at least two baskets.
On Sunday night, Wade had 26 points on nine-of-13 shooting. And he didn’t start.
The U.S. spread the ball around from the start. Shane Battier, who took two shots in the first game, opened the game with a three-point basket from the corner, then drove for a basket.
Dwight Howard made two free throws. Then Anthony and Chris Paul each made 15-footers.
The only starter who didn’t score in the first four minutes was James.
“We’ve got 12 guys on this team who can make shots,” Anthony said.
It certainly looked that way Sunday night. The only player who didn’t score was Brad Miller, but he didn’t shoot.
With so many options, the Americans appear tough to stop. As Slovenia prepares its game plan, will it try to neutralize Anthony or Wade? Or will it focus on James, who has yet to put up the big numbers he’s capable of? But it can’t ignore Paul, who is eight for 15 from the floor and is averaging 12 points.
“For one, you can’t key in on one player,” James said. “You’ve got to play team defense. You can’t just worry about a Dwyane Wade or a Carmelo Anthony or a big man like Dwight Howard or myself. You’ve got to try to key in on everybody and try to stop us, which is very hard to do.”