Shanghai, China They couldn't shoot and occasionally didn't defend. Definitely a performance the Americans should be relieved came before they got to Beijing.
Undefeated, but no longer unchallenged, the U.S. Olympic basketball team wrapped up its exhibition schedule with its toughest test, pulling away to beat Australia, 87-76, Tuesday night.
The United States led by only four points nearly halfway through the third quarter and was up by seven midway through the fourth against an Australian team that was resting its best player, Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut.
The U.S. players still feel like gold-medal favorites, but they hardly looked like gold-medal locks during this shaky outing.
"Nothing alarming for us. It's alarming when you lose," Dwyane Wade said. "We're still growing. We're still going to get better as each game goes on, but I think tonight we learned something."
The Americans relied on an aggressive defensive effort to overcome a horrendous night from three-point range and the free-throw line, the same areas that proved costly in their semifinal loss to Greece in the world championships two years ago.
Wade scored 22 points and LeBron James had 16 for the Americans, who finished 3-of-18 from behind the arc and 20-of-33 (61 percent) at the foul line.
The U.S. team won two blowouts in Macau, but found things much more difficult here, starting with an 89-68 victory over Russia on Sunday.
"The last two games the ball has been sticking a little bit, so we have to get back to looking like the first game where everybody was touching the ball and we were playing like we should," point guard Jason Kidd said. "We're too talented of a team to take tough shots because there's always going to be someone open."