U.S. basketball beats up Canada

Posted: Friday, September 01, 2000

HONOLULU -- Despite ''O Canada'' somehow turning into Beethoven's ''Ode to Joy,'' Vince Carter and his American teammates came up with a virtuoso performance.

Carter, who works in Canada at his regular job, scored 29 points as the U.S. Olympic team won its first exhibition game with ease, 99-70 over Canada on Thursday night.

The low point for the Americans came several minutes before the opening tipoff when an arena employee pushed the wrong button when it was time for the national anthems to be played.

''I didn't know what was going on. I thought maybe that was a version I didn't know,'' Carter said.

After the Beethoven number played for several seconds, the volume was lowered and the song faded out -- much to the disgust of the Canadian basketball federation. The American anthem was then played, but ''O Canada'' wasn't.

''I thought that maybe they were leading into it and they'd eventually play it,'' Canada coach Jay Triano said. ''It's no big deal. Stuff like that happens.''

Canada managed to keep it close for only a few minutes before the Americans took charge with a 16-0 run for a 27-10 lead. After that, the best action came from Carter as he took on the bold Rowan Barrett, who dared to talk a little trash.

Carter didn't dunk until 7:30 remained, and when it finally happened it brought the loudest roar of the night from the crowd of 7,355 at the University of Hawaii.

''I thought we looked pretty good,'' Carter said. ''For me, being the youngest guy, I wanted to adjust to what was going on and have some fun. I thought my game fell into place nicely.''

Ray Allen finished with 18 points, Alonzo Mourning had 13 and Kevin Garnett added 10 points and nine rebounds.

The U.S. team was all thumbs in the first few moments, committing turnovers on is first two possessions -- both on entry passes to Vin Baker.

Canada broke the Americans' press and tied it at 6 on a dunk by Peter Guarasci, but Allan Houston put the U.S. team ahead for good on a 3-pointer from the right corner just over 3 1/2 minutes into the game.

The score was 11-10 before the U.S. team broke the game open with its 16-0 run, the highlight of which was a fast break ending with four touch passes and a dunk by Mourning.

Mourning dunked on the Americans' next possession, too, and Jason Kidd then attempted an alley-oop pass off the backboard that Garnett couldn't convert. It was 27-10 before Canada ended the run on a jumper by Andrew Mavis.

Carter didn't check into the game until more than 10 minutes had elapsed. He converted his first two shots, putting back an airball by Steve Smith for a 29-12 lead and then hitting a 3-pointer. Much to Carter's amusement, Barrett answered with a 3-pointer and then told Carter about it.

Barrett later prevented Carter from dunking, slapping the ball out of his hands on a fast break, but the byplay between the two stayed lighthearted. Barrett led Canada with 22 points.

''He tried out for the Raptors, so we were just having a little fun. Nothing out of the ordinary,'' Carter said.

Garnett provided a light moment five minutes into the second half when he got down on his knees and crawled up behind Todd McCullough, ready to pounce if an inbounds pass was thrown him way.

Garnett never got to spring his surprise, but he was able to leap high for an alley-oop dunk less than a minute later to give the Americans a 62-39 lead.

Canada pulled within 15 with 11 1/2 minutes left, but the U.S. team answered with a 10-0 run including five points from Carter to restore a large comfort zone.

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