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Kevin Durant's 27 points help U.S. squeak past Leandro Barbosa, Brazil


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ISTANBUL -- The shot bounced off the back rim, then the front, then finally fell out.

With that, the United States walked off the court with a victory, and another warning: A world championship won't come easily for this young team -- if it comes at all.

The Americans survived their first tough test in Turkey, edging Brazil 70-68 on Monday when Leandro Barbosa's shot rattled out at the buzzer.

"This game right here was an eye opener," U.S. guard Derrick Rose said.

Kevin Durant scored 27 points and Chauncey Billups added 15 for the Americans (3-0), who essentially clinched Group B with the victory. But they have bigger goals than a group championship, trying to end a 16-year U.S. drought in this event.

This U.S. team has to do without Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and all the other players who led the Americans to the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, and those guys never needed breaks at the buzzer.

"We know that teams are really coming in here to try to win this tournament and we're here to do the same," said Rose, the only other U.S. player in double figures with 11 points.

After the Americans trailed most of the first 2? quarters, Lamar Odom's dunk with 7:14 left put them ahead 64-62. But they couldn't build on the lead during a tense final few minutes, and Brazil had two chances to send the game to overtime.

Following a miss by Billups, Brazil got the ball and Marcelo Huertas was fouled on a drive to the basket with 3.5 seconds remaining. He missed the first free throw and then the second intentionally, tracking it down in the corner and firing it underneath to Barbosa, who lofted a shot over Kevin Love, only to have it bounce off the back and front of the rim.

"I thought it was going to in, but it's OK," Barbosa said. "I think we did a great job, it was a great game. I don't think the USA knew that we could cause problems for them and we did it."

Barbosa finished with 14 points after a strong start for Brazil (2-1). Marcus Vinicius scored 16, and Tiago Splitter had 13 points and 10 rebounds while battling foul trouble in the second half.

With NBA big men Nene, Anderson Varejao and Splitter, Brazil was considered one of the teams with enough size to topple the undersized Americans. Nene had to pull out with an injury and Varejao sat out again while continuing to rest a sprained right ankle, so the Brazilians turned to a speed game to lead for much of the game.

They just couldn't finish the upset, leaving the Americans needing only a victory over Iran or Tunisia, the bottom two teams in Group B, or another Brazil loss to earn the top seed from the group and three full days off before meeting the No. 4 seed from Group A on Sept. 6.

[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Leandro Barbosa's last-second shot didn't fall Monday as the U.S. team escaped a stiff test by Brazil.

The Americans have plenty to work on before worrying about that, after needing a huge night from Durant and 31 minutes from Billups, the old man of the team at 33 who had their only basket in the final 6:50.

"I knew that in the first half that this was going to be a fourth-quarter game, a last two- or three-minute game, and I was preparing myself to just be ready," Billups said.

Nowhere was the difference between this team and its predecessor more apparent than in the matchup with Barbosa. When the teams last met, in their 2007 Olympic qualifier, Barbosa entered as the tournament's leading scorer before Bryant led a defensive effort that held him to four points on 1-of-7 shooting in an easy U.S. win.

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Durant is a nightmare on the offensive side of the court. Not only does he have enough length (almost a 7'5 foot wingspan) to shoot over anyone he can also use his right or left hand to get around slow footed defenders. His release is so quick though he doesn't really even need to look to dribble drive.

I guess the one knock I see on Durant is that he doesn't really make anyone better. He isn't great at getting the ball to his teammates, and once he starts dribbling all of his ability to pass the ball is basically gone.

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CLASSIC. jh, starts a i hope the falcons lose thread, then turns to post in a basketball thread after the falcons are kicking azz...what a maroon Bugs! :lol:

The classic part is where you misintepret the whole thing (deja vu all over again). :rolleyes::lol:

Seriously, it might be time to let one of your kids do your posting until the dementia subsides...

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