BEIJING -- Four down, four to go. The U.S. men's Olympic team is halfway back to the top of the basketball world.
And not even the world champions -- on paper, anyway -- could give the Americans a game.
Unleashing a lethal 3-point barrage for the first time in Beijing, the Americans turned the marquee matchup of the preliminary round into another romp, beating Spain 119-82 Saturday night to clinch the top seed in their group.
LeBron James scored 18 points for the United States (4-0), which hit seven of its first 10 attempts from behind the arc after making only 29 percent in its first three games. The Americans finished at 48 percent (12-of-25), an almost unfair total for a team with unmatched athleticism.
"We shot 45 percent from the 3 and we shot close to 80 from the free throw line, so that's a plus if we can do that," James said. "We know we're going to defend, we know we're going to get fast-break points, but when we can shot the ball from the outside like that and shoot free throws, well it's going to be tough to beat us."
Every U.S. player scored -- even Jason Kidd for the first time in Beijing -- as the Americans turned the matchup of unbeatens into their easiest victory yet. Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony each finished with 16 points.
The Americans will face the No. 4 seed from Group A, either Australia or Croatia, in the quarterfinals. They also wouldn't have to face Lithuania, the other remaining unbeaten and top seed from the other side, or Spain again until the gold-medal game.
Felipe Reyes scored 19 points for Spain (3-1), the 2006 world champion. The Spanish have won eight of their last 10 Olympic games, but the two losses were against the Americans. They hope to get another crack next Sunday on the final day of the Beijing Games.
The Americans need to play eight games to win the gold medal. They can lose Monday's now-meaningless game to close pool play against Germany, but have to be perfect for the final three starting Wednesday.
They look up for the task.
Ignoring early foul trouble to Kobe Bryant and Anthony, the Americans turned to top reserves Wade and Chris Paul to ignite an early 13-3 spurt that gave them a 13-point lead late in the first quarter. Spain never made much of a dent in the deficit. even while shooting 58 percent in the first half.
The Spanish tried to slow the Americans with a zone defense, but crisp ball movement set up open 3-pointers -- and the U.S. players finally made them. James and Bryant hit from behind the arc on consecutive possessions after Spain trimmed the U.S. lead to eight midway through the second quarter, and Deron Williams nailed another during a 9-0 burst that made it a 20-point game late in the half.
The Americans led 61-45 at the break, then Anthony hit two more 3s during an 11-3 surge to open the second half that made it 72-48 when Kidd sank a layup -- his first shot attempt in Beijing.
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