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The United States had 12-point lead in the game in Japan two years ago before handing it over with its sloppy defensive effort. The Americans came out much sharper this time, with Jason Kidd picking up three fouls in the first 1:25 while aggressively defending, and Bryant picking up Vasileios Spanoulis, the top Greek scorer.
And after stubbornly sticking to what wasn't working in the game two years ago, the Americans showed the Greeks different looks this time. They picked up full court on one early possession, then fell back into a zone defense on another.
Unlike their easy victory against Angola two nights earlier, the Americans kept up the defensive intensity after halftime. Dwight Howard smacked away a shot right into Kidd's head, leading to a shot clock violation, and James and Bosh had rejections on the same third-quarter possession a few minutes later.
The Americans still struggled from the free throw line and 3-point arc. They were 7-of-20 on 3s and just 13 of 23 at the line.
Greece (1-2), which lost to Spain in its opener, faces winless Angola before closing pool play against China.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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