Washington, DC – With President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in attendance for Monday's exhibition game, Team USA had a slow start, but a strong second quarter and beat Brazil in another warm-up for the Olympics.
LeBron James poured in 30 points and outscored Brazil by himself in the second quarter, on the way to an 80-69 win for the U.S. at Verizon Center.
James had seven points, part of a 20-5 scoring binge for the U.S. in the quarter, this after falling behind by 10 points after the opening quarter.
"We learned a lot, we grew," Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "This is about our fourth day where we've had the whole team together. To win a game like this, when we're not hitting, is a good thing for us."
The U.S. finished shooting 40.8 percent, 10 percent lower than Brazil. The difference was the turnovers, 26 by Brazil, leading to 28 U.S. points.
"We came out and didn't shoot the ball extremely well," James said. "It got us down and we let our offense mess with our defense early on. Once we decided we needed to focus on our defense and not our offense we were able to turn the game around."
Kevin Durant tallied 11 points and Chris Paul scored 10 for Team USA.
Alex Garcia scored 14 to pace Brazil, which also received 11 points and 13 assists from Marcelo Huertas, and 12 points and 13 rebounds from Anderson Varejao.
The U.S. missed its first ten 3-point attempts, but finally cut into what was a 27-17 deficit after one quarter and got within one on Kobe Bryant's 3-ball from the right corner. Tyson Chandler then came up with a steal under Brazil's basket, and his layup made it 30-29 with 3:10 left in the half.
James later took matters into his own hands with a driving slam with 66 seconds left in the second quarter, giving the U.S. a 37-32 halftime lead.
"We did a fantastic job offensively, in terms of counter punching; we had to settle in at first and make our adjustments," Bryant said.
After watching Brazil go 10-of-16 from the field in the first 12 minutes, led by Garcia's 10 points, the Americans pushed the envelope defensively by limiting their opponents to a 2-of-9 effort in the second quarter.
More impressive was the defensive pressure. Brazil had 12 turnovers in the quarter, leading to 13 U.S. points.
Paul's 3-pointer widened the gap to double digits in the third, and the U.S. held a 59-51 cushion going to the fourth.
Varejao's tip-in had Brazil within 65-59 midway through the fourth, but the U.S. restored control with an ensuing 10-2 spurt, with James having the final seven points of the run.
"Our size was a factor we used it to our advantage," Varejao said. "Our height can be a key factor not only against the U.S., but other opponents in the future. This game will be a learning experience, and we will build from this."
Since the Dream Team debuted in 1992 with legendary NBA stars, the U.S. has gone 39-1 in exhibition games.
The U.S. will resume its five-game exhibition schedule on Thursday by playing Great Britain at Manchester Arena in England. Team USA's first game at the Olympics is July 29 vs. France.