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Dream Team Crushes Japan

In a contest that was more of a layup drill than a competitive game, the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team crushed a seriously overmatched Japanese national team 105-49 Wednesday night.

In their next-to-last exhibition game before the Sydney Olympics, the U.S. team toyed with an opponent that played horrible defense and had trouble dribbling and passing against any kind of pressure.

Vince Carter scored 18 points, Vin Baker had 17, Shareef Abdur-Rahim added 14, Ray Allen 12, Steve Smith 11 and Gary Payton 10 for the U.S. team, which scored nearly all of its points on layups and dunks in the final game of the Super Dream Games 2000 round-robin tournament.

Shooting jumpers only when they grew tired of converting gimmes, the Americans had their most lopsided victory of their four exhibition games thus far. The only downer was an injury to Kevin Garnett's left hand that kept him on the sidelines and could keep him out of a tuneup game Saturday in Melbourne against the Australian Olympic team.

Antonio McDyess also sat out with a sore lower back.

Playing in front of a large crowd that included many fans wearing Team USA jerseys and Toronto Raptors jerseys, the Americans treated the fans to their usual array of high-flying dunks and alley-oops.

Unlike in recent games in which Carter had most of the highlights, this time Abdur-Rahim had about the same number of opportunities to show off his mid-air moves. The Americans finished with innumerable layups and nine dunks including two nice ones by Carter in the final minute while the Japanese team tossed up a total of four airballs.

The U.S. team opened with a full-court press, and it quickly became clear that Japan couldn't deal with it. On its second possession, a five-second violation was called; on the next, one of the flustered Japanese guards sent his inbounds pass sailing out of bounds along the sideline.

On their third attempt at breaking the press, the Japanese got the ball past midcourt only because the referees apparently took pity on them and declined to call an obvious traveling violation against a player who could bareldribble the ball.

It took nearly five minutes for Japan to get its first field goal, and U.S. coach Rudy Tomjanovich mercifully called off the press just six minutes into the game.

Gary Payton drew a technical foul with 6:13 left in the first half for swearing while complaining to a Lithuanian referee about a foul call. Seconds later, Payton leveled a Japanese player with a body block.

Carter came up with something different early on by rejecting a shot with two hands rather than one, and Steve Smith and Jason Kidd did their best Magic Johnson impressions with head fakes that left Japanese defenders not knowing which way to turn.

Allen gave the U.S. a 58-23 halftime lead by swishing a straightaway 3-pointer from 30 feet just before the buzzer. The best sequence of the second half came on a 10-2 run in which Abdur-Rahim had two dunks, a steal and an assist on an alley-oop jam by Carter.

Team doctor Harlan Selesnick said Garnett's injury will not prevent him from playing in the Olympics.

Garnett caught his left index finger on an opposing player's jersey late in the second half of the U.S. team's 95-66 victory over Spain on Tuesday night. The injury was described as a strain of the flexor tendon, which runs from the area between the index and middle fingers down to the wrist.

"I'm cool. It's not broken. It's nothing major," Garnett said.

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