ATHENS, Greece, AP
The American men’s basketball team bounced back from a shock defeat by Puerto Rico to beat Greece 77-71 Tuesday while Lithuania, China and Australia were among the other winners.
Greece had a chance to pull within two points with 18 seconds left, but Lamar Odom defended the play perfectly for the Americans, keeping his hand high and preventing Dimitris Pipanikoulaou from getting a clean layup attempt.
Odom rebounded the miss and made two free throws to lock up the U.S. team’s victory in its second game of the Olympics.
In a much closer game than expected, the Americans bounced back from their embarrassing loss to Puerto Rico in their opener and avoided dropping to 0-2, which would have matched their loss total from the previous 68 years.
Yao Ming bounced back from a rough opening game with 39 points and 13 rebounds to lead China to a 69-62 win over New Zealand and Shane Heal scored 18 points to power Australia to an 83-59 win over Angola.
Serbia Montenegro defeated Italy 74-72 on Milos Vujanic’s two free throws in the final seconds while Spain beat Argentina 87-76.
Allen Iverson played for the U.S. with a broken right thumb, scoring a team leading 17 points. Iverson originally injured the thumb on his shooting hand during the team’s 92-73 defeat Sunday, then aggravated it during practice Monday.
Puerto Rico center Jose Ortiz said his team’s loss wasn’t a letdown after the big win over the Americans.
“As I said the other night, basketball is not consistent always,” Ortiz said.
“We’re still getting things together. Tonight, we didn’t have the toughness and focus from our defense that we did against the U.S.”
The loss on Sunday night was the first for the United States since NBA players began participating in the Olympics in 1992 and was just the third in 112 Olympic games overall.
Ramunas Siskauskas had 23 points for Lithuania (2-0).
Lithuania, which has won the last three Olympic bronze medals, pulled away from Puerto Rico with an 8-0 run early in the fourth quarter and the lead reached 15 points twice, the last time at 88-73 with 402 to play.
Yao, the 2.26-meter (7-foot-5) center from the Houston Rockets, had 12 points for China and eight rebounds in an opening loss to Spain, but he took over from the start against New Zealand, finishing 15-for-20 from the field and keying China’s effective zone defense inside.
Phillip Jones had 23 points for New Zealand (0-2), which closed within 63-59 with 42 seconds left but China went 6-for-8 from the free throw line to seal the win.
Andrew Bogut added 16 points and 11 rebounds for Australia, which led 45-29 at halftime and was up by as many as 28 points in the fourth quarter.
Valter Monteiro had 18 points for Angola (0-2), which shot just 27 percent (19-for-71).
After losing 83-82 in overtime to Argentina on a buzzer-beater by Manu Ginobili in its opener, Serbia-Montenegro beat Italy when Gianluca Basile’s jumper missed as the game ended.
Vujanic’s free throws came with 5.6 seconds left.
Basile had tied the game 14 seconds earlier when he stripped Dejan Bodiroga near midcourt and went in for a layup.
Igor Rakocevic had 19 points for Serbia-Montenegro, the reigning world champions. Massimo Bulleri scored 15 points for Italy, now 1-1.