Wade off the bench a blessing for Team USA

Published August 27, 2006

SAITAMA, Japan - Dwyane Wade sized up the U.S. roster and decided how he could best make a difference: on the bench.

That seemed like a strange place for a player just two months removed from winning the MVP award at the NBA Finals. But it made perfect sense to Wade, who is just as comfortable fitting in as he is standing out.

"It's something that I wanted," he said. "This team is very deep, and of course coach can start me at any time with these guys. But me coming off the bench gives us another dimension and I love it."

So did the rest of the Americans, who went 5-0 during pool play before moving on to meet Australia today in the round of 16.

Once Wade settled on his plan, he discussed it with fellow captains LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and told them he was bringing it to U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Krzyzewski went along with the idea. He saw it as a way to separate Wade, James and Anthony, all needing plenty of shots, while giving him a top scorer to lead his second unit.

Playing primarily with Kirk Hinrich, Elton Brand, Antawn Jamison and Joe Johnson, Wade averaged 21.4 points during pool play. That ranked fourth in the tournament behind fellow NBA All-Stars Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol.

SPAIN 87, SERBIA & MONTENEGRO 75: Gasol had 19 points and 15 rebounds Saturday as Spain ousted the defending champion and advanced to the quarterfinals.

TURKEY 90, SLOVENIA 84: Serkan Erdogan had 24 points, and Turkey went 5-for-5 from 3-point range over the final 4 minutes, 22 seconds.

ARGENTINA 79, NEW ZEALAND 62: Manu Ginobili scored 28 to help make up for his team's 1-for-18 3-point shooting. Tab Baldwin, New Zealand's coach for the past six years, resigned after the loss.

LITHUANIA 71, ITALY 68: Arvydas Macijauskas scored 10 of his 15 in the fourth ter and Lithuania survived four missed free throws in the final seconds.

WNBA: Conn. forces Game 3

Katie Douglas, playing with a hairline fracture in her right foot, provided the host Connecticut Sun a spark en route to a 77-68 win over the Detroit Shock to force today's Game 3 of their Eastern Conference final. After missing the first game in the series, Douglas hit a 3-pointer and a 14-foot jumper during a 17-5 run in the third quarter to give the Sun a 54-43 lead.