With Kobe Bryant joining LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in the starting lineup, the Americans figured to look impressive in the opener of the Olympic qualifying tournament.
And they did -- eventually.
Anthony scored 17 points, Bryant added 14, and the United States rolled to a 112-69 victory over Venezuela Wednesday night in the FIBA Americas tournament in Las Vegas.
The Americans were dominant for the final three quarters after scoring only 21 points in the first. Bryant, the NBA scoring champion the last two seasons, didn't even score in the opening period.
"We can still improve," James said. "We know we didn't do as well as we could on the offensive end, even though we scored a lot of points, but we're going to get better."
They were still pretty good. The Americans quickly overcame their sluggish start and shot 55 percent from the field while putting seven players in double figures.
"I think tonight we really wanted to be aggressive from the get," Anthony said. "That was real important. I think tonight that was our main goal, to go out there and dominate. Not try to embarrass, but dominate, and I think we did a good job at that."
Argentina 90, Uruguay 69 -- Luis Scola, one of the few Argentina stars playing in the tournament, scored 16 points to help the defending Olympic gold medalists beat Uruguay yesterday.
Canada 80, Venezuela 73 -- Philadelphia 76ers center Samuel Dalembert, who was born in Haiti and recently became a Canadian citizen, scored 18 points, 6 in the final 2:05, to lead Canada to its first win in the tournament.
Puerto Rico 108, Panama 67 -- Carlos Arroyo rebounded from a dismal opening game with 16 points and eight assists, leading Puerto Rico over Panama. Ricardo Sanchez scored 19 points and Carmelo Lee had 17 for Puerto Rico (1-1), which looked sharp the day after being upset by Mexico. Arroyo was the biggest problem in that game, scoring 4 points.