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November 26, 2014

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U.S. thrashes Spain, 119-82, in China

Jason Kidd finally took a shot at the Olympics. It only took 3 1/2 games for the Dallas Mavericks guard to get into the scoring books.

Kidd's left-handed fastbreak layup capped an 11-3 run to open the second half in Wukesong Indoor Stadium on Saturday to give Team USA a 72-48 lead over Spain.

Spain called timeout, and Kidd walked to the bench exchanging high-fives and wide smiles with each of his teammates.

That's been the theme for the Americans, who breezed to a 119-82 victory over Spain, at the Beijing Games. Kidd, who has deferred to the wealth of talent around him, improved his international record to 47-0.

The U.S. is proving to be too quick, too good and too deep for an Olympic opponent. The other guys turned it over 68 times in Team USA's first three games, and Spain stuck to that script with 17 turnovers in the first half.

A barrage of 3-point shots enabled the U.S. to race out to a 61-45 halftime lead. After three games, the Americans had the worst 3-point shooting in the tournament. But they canned seven in the first half against the Spaniards.

Carmelo Anthony had two in the first quarter, and LeBron James sank three. Tayshaun Prince opened the second quarter with one, for a 34-24 advantage. And one from Deron Williams pumped Team USA's edge to 52-36.

Two free throws by Kobe Bryant -- dubbed "The Little Flying Warrior" by his growing legion of Chinese fans -- gave the U.S. a 20-point edge, at 56-36, and Spain fought to cut its halftime deficit to 16 points.

In that spurt at the end of the second quarter, 17-year-old guard Ricky Rubio tossed a nifty alley-oop pass to Rudy Fernandez for a dunk on the right side. It was one of the few highlights for a Team USA foe at the Olympics.

Anthony hit two more 3-pointers during that 11-3 run that started the third quarter.

James led everyone with 18 points, and Dwyane Wade and Anthony chipped in with 16 apiece. Felipe Reyes led Spain with 17 points.

Team USA is 4-0 in Group B and finishes the preliminary round Monday against Germany. Greece and Spain were no match for the U.S., though, so don't expect the Germans to put up much of a battle. Perhaps Lithuania, 4-0 in Group A, is the only team that can make the U.S. sweat.

Then the knockout stage begins. That's the real tournament for Team USA, which has spent three summers bonding and training in Las Vegas to avenge missing the past three major international title games.

For those keeping score of such trivia, that's two World Championships and the Athens Games. And that's a record for futility for the U.S.

For others tracking Olympic basketball in Beijing, which is fast becoming trivial to everyone but the Americans, Jason Kidd finally scored.

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