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Americans drub Germany 106-57 in men's basketball

Aug. 18, 2008, 11:22 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING - The U.S. is ready to put the pedal to the medal.

The Americans tuned up for Olympic medal play by crushing Germany 106-57 on Monday night in a meaningless game for both sides.

The U.S. is three wins away from its first gold medal since 2000. First up is Australia in the quarterfinals on Wednesday night.

"It's finally here," forward Carmelo Anthony said. "We're knocking on the door. It's time to get down to business right now. We've got three games to accomplish what we've been waiting to do for four years."

The U.S. didn't wait to dispose of the Germans. The U.S. jumped out to a 20-3 lead, with LeBron James capping the run with a dunk, a bucket and a 3-pointer.

The U.S. led 53-29 at halftime, and the rest of the night was garbage time.

Asked afterward what it will take to beat the U.S., the American-born German center Chris Kaman replied, "No one's gonna beat 'em."

Once again, defense was the story for the U.S. The Americans limited Germany to 30 percent shooting from the floor and forced 18 turnovers.

The Germans' only hope was that the Americans would look past them to Australia, and that wasn't happening. The U.S. has been able to avoid the mental lapses that have plagued it in recent international competitions.

Don't look for their concentration to lapse now.

"This is what we've been preparing for, for these three games right here," Dwyane Wade said. "We had to play these five games to position ourselves in the right way. We did that. We played well. Now we've got to take it up a notch to play even better."

Is that possible?

"Some people say, 'How can y'all do that?' " Wade said. "Well, we feel that we're even hungrier now, and we're going to look at every game as a Game 7. If we continue to play defense the way we're playing and continue to move the ball, it's going to be tough to beat us."

After the game, the Americans celebrated in their locker room with Michael Phelps. He went 8-for-8 in Beijing, and that's exactly what the U.S. is shooting for.

In a tribute to the record-setting swimmer, center Dwight Howard sported a pair of swim goggles at the postgame news conference, and he joked that he's going to give the 100 meters a shot.

Howard led the U.S. with 22 points and 10 rebounds, both team highs. Dirk Nowitzki had 14 points for Germany.

The Americans' mood was light. But that figures to change as they prepare for the Aussies, who looked sharp in a 106-75 rout of previously unbeaten Lithuania on Monday.

Australia gave the Americans their toughest game on a five-game exhibition tour leading up to the Olympics. The U.S. won 87-76 on Aug. 5 in Shanghai, China.

The U.S. led by only four points nearly halfway through the third quarter and was up by seven midway through the fourth even though Australia rested its best player, Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut.

The U.S. didn't play well that night, but it was probably looking forward to finishing a wearying tour that began in Las Vegas in July.

"In that game, we were looking forward to coming here and getting the Olympics started," Anthony said. "They're a physical team, a tough team, and I'm pretty sure they're going to take that game and build some confidence and momentum off of it."

Confidence hasn't been a problem for the Americans since the Olympics opened. They've blitzed five opponents by an average score of 103-71, and their closest game has been a 21-point victory against Angola, one of the weaker teams in the field.

"I have not seen them play with such a chip on their shoulders since the Dream Team of '92, especially with Kobe running the show," Bogut said after Australia's victory over Lithuania. "They have a different mentality. They are trying to kill teams and they are going to try to knock us out with the first punch, but we have to stay calm."

Asked what it would take to beat the U.S., Bogut said, "Shoot 100 percent."

Bogut nearly did that against the Lithuanians, hitting 10-of-12 shots from the floor, including all three from beyond the arc. He finished with 23 points.

Bogut has been superb in the Olympics, leading his team in scoring with 14.4 points per game.

The U.S. is 12-0 all-time against Australia, winning their most recent meeting by 40 points in the 2006 world championship.

Along with Bogut, the Aussies feature guard Brad Newley, drafted by the Houston Rockets in 2007, and fleet-footed guard Patrick Mills of St. Mary's College.

The U.S. expects the Aussies to use a methodical approach and try to slow the Americans' running game.

"We've really got to not give them a chance to run their sets," Howard said. "Really play our game and do what we've been doing the whole tournament, which is running, playing great defense and making teams rush."