Full time: Another day, another routine 31-point blowout [BOX SCORE]. You could really trace the turning point of this contest back to the Deron Williams buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the first half. Instead of heading to the locker room nursing a single-digit lead, Team USA strutted confidently off the court with a 55-43 advantage -- just a three-point difference but a considerable psychological edge. The momentum carried over into the second half, where the U.S. put the Australians away with 14 unanswered points to open the third quarter. Kobe Bryant powered the Americans with a game-high 25 points -- the highest single-game total for a U.S. player in Beijing -- on 10-for-16 shooting. But game ball goes (once again) to LeBron James, who filled the stat sheet with 16 points, nine boards, four steals and three assists.
1:00, 4th: It's Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Michael Redd, Tayshaun Prince and Carlos Boozer on mop-up duty for Team USA.
1:40, 4th: Carlos Boozer scores to re-extend the U.S. lead to 111-81. With the reserve forward's bucket, every U.S. player has gotten into offensive mix.
3:36, 4th: Deron Williams corrals the rebound off a Brad Newley miss and fires a 60-foot pass to Michael Redd, who tries to dart toward the basket for a punctuating slam dunk. But Australia's Joe Ingles won't give him the satisfaction, casually stepping in the way for a foul 20 feet from the goal.
6:05, 4th: A LeBron James two-pointer pushes the U.S. team past the century mark for the third straight game and the fourth time during this tournament.
6:27, 4th: Another long three-pointer from Bryant opens the lead to 99-67. Kobe's got a game-high 25 points, the most any U.S. player has logged in a single game during this tournament.
7:41, 4th: Kobe buries a three-pointer from San Francisco to open the lead to 96-67. The U.S. has made 9-of-23 attempts from beyond the arc after going 2-of-10 to start the game.
8:16, 4th: Michael Redd gets into the scorebook with a jumper.
End, 3rd: So much for drama. The Americans outscored their opponents 34-18 during the third quarter to stake a commanding 89-61 lead with 10 minutes left. They've all but punched their ticket to the semifinals.
1:22, 3rd: Glen Saville converts a four-point play and it's 85-59. Where the action between players was a little chippy during the first half, this third quarter has really taken the wind out of Australia's sails. They've internalized their defiance.
2:20, 3rd: Bosh drains a pair of fouls to put the U.S. ahead by an even 30 points. Team USA has tripled up the Australians during the third frame by a 27-9 margin.
4:19, 3rd: Chris Bosh throws down a two-handed dunk off a beautiful assist from LeBron. Some attractive, tiki-taka passing from the U.S. They're really rolling now.
5:34, 3rd: LeBron James fails to convert an old-fashioned three-point play but his made field goal puts the U.S. ahead 71-46. Just a dominating stretch of basketball to start the second half for the Redeem Team.
6:21, 3rd: Matt Nielsen misses a pair of foul shots and the Boomers are still stuck on 43 points, where they've been since the 1:46 mark of the second frame.
6:35, 3rd: Kobe Bryant strokes another three-pointer to extend a 14-0 run for the United States in this quarter.
8:00, 3rd: Another take and another make for Jason Kidd. He's 2-for-2 today and 4-for-4 in this tournament. They're going to start calling this guy "Get Buckets" the way he's shooting the ball! Team USA leads 66-43.
9:08, 3rd: Carmelo Anthony nails another three. That's three consecutive trifectas for the U.S. team, extending a 9-0 run spanning halftime. Just like that, the Americans find themselves in command with 19 minutes and change remaining in regulation.
9:34, 3rd: Kobe Bryant, who's struggled with his stroke from beyond the arc during this tourney, buries a three-pointer to open the U.S. lead to 58-43.
10:00, 3rd: Same starters for both sides to start the third quarter.
Halftime: It was hardly a perfect performance, but Australia can't be disappointed with the way the first half transpired. Team USA is doubling up the Boomers on the glass -- staking a 26-13 rebounding advantage -- and they're shooting an even 50.0 percent from the floor. But the Aussies remain within striking distance thanks to Team USA's cold performance from the line (10-of-20, 50.0 percent) and even colder three-point shooting (3-of-13, 23.1 percent). LeBron James is leading the way for the Americans with a game-high 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Brad Newley and Patrick Mills pace Australia with eight points apiece.
0:00.0, 2nd: Deron Williams bangs a three-pointer at the buzzer to open Team USA's largest lead of the game at 55-43.
0:27.7, 2nd: The U.S. has taken Australia behind the woodshed on the glass, on the offensive end in particular. Kobe Bryant just grabbed Team USA's 11th offensive rebound of the game before scoring on a fadeaway in the lane.
1:35, 2nd: ... and Newley sinks a three-pointer to close the U.S. lead to 50-43. Australia is 4-of-8 on three-point attempts today.
2:04, 2nd: LeBron James slashes toward the rim and deposits a lay-in to open the advantage to 10 points -- the largest lead of the half ...
3:35, 2nd: Kobe makes a shot while getting fouled but misses the free throw. The U.S. is just 9-of-18 from the line. They're similarly frigid from beyond the arc, making just 2-of-10 shots from three-point range.
3:47, 2nd: Newley sinks a pair of fouls to pull Australia within seven points. It appears the Boomers have weathered a second Team USA storm ...
4:01, 2nd: LeBron powers his way toward the goal through the teeth of the zone and draws a foul from David Andersen. The shot falls but James can't convert the three-point play. The U.S. has made just 7-of-14 shots from the stripe so far.
5:43, 2nd: An Australia turnover leads to an easy LeBron James bucket and the U.S. team has its largest lead of the game at 41-32. After taking such good care of the ball during the early stages, the Boomers have started to slip.
6:42, 2nd: Wade scores in transition and the U.S. has used a 7-2 spurt over about a minute-and-a-half to open the lead to seven points. Brian Goorjian calls a timeout to settle his charges down.
7:04, 2nd: Bryant embarrasses David Andersen off the dribble and throws down a vicious one-handed dunk.
7:52, 2nd: James opens the lead back up to five points with a slam dunk. Australia's only turned it over three times so far.
8:40, 2nd: Another basket from Mills, this time in transition, to help the Aussies keep pace with the gradually awakening Americans. Mills has eight points off the bench. Team USA leads 30-28.
9:40, 2nd: Dwyane Wade drives the length of the court and puts down an acrobatic lay-up while drawing a Patrick Mills foul. He sinks the free throw for another three-point play.
End, 1st: The U.S. outrebounded Australia by a 20-8 margin during the first frame but only lead 25-24 through 10 minutes.
0:04.5, 1st: With the shot-clock turned off, Mills beat Chris Paul down left side of the lane and tosses up a short banker while drawing the foul. The whistle blows, the shot falls, the crowd roars. But Mills misses the free throw and a chance to tie the score.
0:45.4, 1st: The U.S. misses in the paint but the loose ball is punched out to Carmelo Anthony all alone at the top of the key. Melo cans a three-pointer to put the U.S. back ahead 24-21.
1:01, 1st: We're tied at 21 apiece after Glen Saville cans a pair of free throws. The reserve guard drew a foul on Dwyane Wade to put Australia in the bonus.
1:40, 1st: Another Anstey basket -- his sixth and seventh points -- closes the hole to 21-19. Australia is doing a great job of getting high-percentage looks near the basket out of their Princeton-style offense.
3:19, 1st: Anstey just canned an NBA-length three to close the deficit to 20-17. You've got to respect the way Australia has fought back after taking Team USA's early punches. They've trailed by as many as nine points.
4:30, 1st: The much-maligned Jason Kidd has just taken his third shot of this entire tournament. It's good. (He's actually made all three!)
4:53, 1st: Mills and David Barlow have canned three-pointers on consecutive possessions to pull Australia within 15-12. Some defensive lapses there for the U.S.
5:52, 1st: Patrick Mills just entered the game for Australia. College hoops junkies might recognize his Mills from March Madness, where the freshman guard scored 24 points and dished five assists against Miami in a first-round loss.
6:35, 1st: ... but Brad Newley flies downcourt and gets a cheap lay-up.
6:41, 1st: LeBron James dribbles past his defender and calmly buries a three-pointer to give the U.S. a 12-3 lead ...
7:18, 1st: Andrew Bogut just picked up his second foul but he's staying in the game
8:13, 1st: The U.S. is really attacking Andrew Bogut on offense, pounding the ball inside to Dwight Howard. Howard drew a foul while shooting on a previous possession but clanked both free throws. This time, Howard makes a shot while Bogut fouls. He sinks the freebie to convert the old-fashioned three-point play.
9:05, 1st: Carmelo Anthony sinks a jumper to open the scoring.
10:00, 1st: It's Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard wearing white for Team USA. C.J. Bruton, David Barlow, Brad Newley, Matt Nielsen and Andrew Bogut wearing green for Australia.
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Team USA is a 32-point favorite today against Australia in their quarterfinal clash. Here are three reasons why you'd have to be crazy to lay those points:
1. Australia is the tourney's best three-point shooting team. As any March Madness initiate can tell you, the three-pointer is the great equalizer. In a one-off situation, sometimes a scorching hot shooting night is all it takes. The Boomers are the best three-point shooting team in the field, having connected on 44.4 percent (48-of-108) of their shots from beyond the arc in five games. In completely undressing the previously unbeaten Lithuanian team in Monday's group stage finale, Australia made 16-of-25 shots from downtown.
2. They've got the equipment up front. Twin seven-footers Andrew Bogut and Chris Anstey team with 6-11 David Andersen and 6-10 Matt Nielsen to comprise perhaps the most formidable frontcourt in Beijing. (By the way, Bogut and Anstey can take and make the international three: Each player was 3-for-3 from beyond the arc against Lithuania.)
3. They know they can hang with the U.S. Of the 10 games the Redeem Team has played since leaving the U.S. -- five exhibitions and five group stage contests -- Australia offered the stiffest challenge on Aug. 5 in the final pre-Olympic tune-up. The Aussies trailed by just four points midway through the third frame before the U.S. used a 13-2 spurt to pull away for an eventual 87-76 victory. And this was without Andrew Bogut, who's paced the Boomers in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots during the Olympic tourney.