U.S. Completes Basketball Sweep in Pool Play, Australia Next Up

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The U.S. Olympic team put away Dirk Nowitzki and Germany in a hurry. Next up: the only team so far these Americans couldn't blow out. After destroying Germany 106-57 on Monday, the Americans (5-0) move on to a quarterfinal matchup Wednesday against Australia, the team that's provided them with their toughest test in China.

The U.S. led by only seven points midway through the fourth quarter of an 87-76 exhibition victory in Shanghai two weeks ago over an Australian team that didn't have starting center Andrew Bogut of the Milwaukee Bucks. He was resting a sore right ankle.

It's hard to imagine a repeat of that semi-Shanghai surprise with the way the U.S. has played in Beijing.

Dwight Howard scored 22 points and LeBron James had 18, 16 in the first half, Monday as the United States completed an undefeated march through pool play.

Not since the Dream Team rumbled through Las Ramblas 16 years ago in Barcelona has a team been this dominant. The Americans won their pool games by 32.2 points and averaged 103 points.

The only thing they might have to work on is Kobe Bryant's dunking. He blew two Monday, but hit three 3-pointers after going only 5-of-24 in the first four games.

Bryant finished with 13 points as the Americans shot 55 percent from the floor and tossed in 11 more 3-pointers after making 12 in their last game.

With the top seed in their group already clinched, the Americans could have come out flat like Lithuania, which entered Monday as the other unbeaten and was trounced 106-75 by Australia.

Instead, they came out and flattened Germany.

The Americans scored 3 seconds into the game when Howard batted the tip to James, who threw it ahead to Carmelo Anthony for a layup. That was the start of eight straight U.S. points, and the end of any suspense.

Germany missed nine of its first 10 shots, including a blown dunk and a botched putback by Los Angeles Clippers center Chris Kaman. Bryant missed a dunk, too, during that stretch, but Howard and James had consecutive slams to make it 18-3.

The Americans were scoring so easily, they practically got in each other's way. Chris Paul led a 3-on-1 break and threw an alley-oop that could have gone to either James or Dwyane Wade. James jumped higher and got it to lay it in, then stepped outside to hit his second 3 for a 23-5 bulge.

Up 19 after one, the U.S. scored the first eight points of the second to make it 39-12. The lead was 28 after James drilled 3-pointers on consecutive U.S. possessions, and ballooned to 30 for the first time when Howard scored four straight to make it 49-19 with 3 minutes left in the half.

Bryant hit the side of the rim on another slam attempt early in the third quarter, so he backed up 20 feet and tossed in back-to-back 3s for a 62-29 cushion. Howard slammed down an alley-oop from Wade right after Nowitzki checked out, turning into an 80-39 bulge with 2:41 remaining in the period.

Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks All-Star, scored 14 points for Germany (1-4), which completed a disappointing Olympics. The Germans looked like contenders in a 95-66 rout of Angola in their opener, but then dropped four straight.

Kaman, who joined the Germans this summer after getting German citizenship, managed just six points.