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Defense-minded U.S. defeats world champs

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Published August 7, 2004

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro - The U.S. Olympic men's basketball team did Larry Brown proud.

Following his mantra of "playing the right way," The United States dominated the defending world champions with defense in an impressive 78-60 victory over Serbia-Montenegro on Friday night in an Olympic warmup.

The Americans took a partisan crowd of about 18,000 out of the game by holding Serbia-Montenegro to nine points in the second quarter, and their defense never relented. They showed none of the faults that hampered them in earlier games against Italy and Germany while shutting down an opponent that appeared equal parts overconfident and incompetent.

Tim Duncan led the U.S. team with 16 points, LeBron James added 11 and the entire team played with a level of determination that should go a long way toward re-establishing it as one of the favorites for the gold medal.

When the evening started the Americans weren't even picked to win the game. Local betting parlors listed the Serbian team as a four-point favorite.

"We are the team that everyone wants to play their best basketball against," Lamar Odom said. The U.S. team went 14-for-14 from the free-throw line and 30-of-60 from the field, and held the Serbian team to 35 percent shooting and 1-for-14 accuracy from 3-point range.

A 14-0 run to start the second quarter put the Americans in control.

The U.S. team's next game is against Turkey on Sunday night.

CYCLING: Sue Haywood's effort to be restored to the U.S. mountain biking team ended in Denver, where a federal judge denied her request to have a second arbiter decide who should race in Athens. The ruling ends a monthlong saga involving Haywood and Mary McConneloug, two of the top women's mountain bikers.

FORMER HURDLER DIES: Milton Green, a former world-record hurdler who boycotted the 1936 Olympics in Berlin in protest of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime, died in West Palm Beach. He was 92.

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