Thursday, August 12, 2010
Updated: August 13, 8:51 AM ET
Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul plan for '12
NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul want to defend their Olympic gold medals.
On Thursday night, they dropped by to see the players who can earn them the chance.
The U.S. national team scrimmaged at Radio City Music Hall, where they were followed by a Jay-Z performance. The Blue team won 49-47 in overtime -- it was sudden death to prepare the venue for the concert -- on Tyson Chandler's dunk on a lob pass from Rajon Rondo.
Also watching from the sideline were LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Amare Stoudemire. James was the only one who didn't speak.
Anthony and Paul both said they plan to play in 2012 in London. The Americans would qualify by winning the world championships in Turkey that start Aug. 28.
"I can't wait, I definitely want to be a part of that team," said Paul, sidelined this summer as he recovers from knee surgery.
Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala scored 15 points for the Blue and was the game MVP. Stephen Curry hit four 3-pointers down the stretch and finished with 14.
Lamar Odom had 13 for the White and Chauncey Billups added 11. Both teams shot poorly in the first half and had turnover problems, perhaps struggling to adjust to the unusual venue, with one side of the court open facing the audience seating.
"We played on a big stage tonight," Odom said.
Anthony, Wade and Paul all were interviewed during the sloppy first half, which ended with the White up 19-18 after 12 minutes. Anthony, who also played in the 2004 Olympics but is sitting out this summer after getting married, was asked if he wants to return in 2012.
"Of course," he said. "I'm locked in. I'm committed."
The level of play picked up in the second half, with Curry getting hot from the corners in the final few minutes.
"He gives us a weapon that we're going to need through this next month," coach Mike Krzyzewski said, adding that the veteran players finding him open showed a "high level of unselfishness."
The Americans were preceded on the court by bands, cheerleaders and dancers, making the opening event of the World Basketball Festival seem more like a pep rally than a basketball workout. Kevin Durant, the team's best player, shot only 4-of-12 and missed all five 3-point attempts.
He likened the event to an NBA All-Star Game, though said "at the same time, we tried to get things done."
The Americans will begin to see competition starting Sunday, when they face France in an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden. They leave Monday for Europe, where they face difficult warm-ups against Lithuania, Spain and Greece before arriving in Istanbul.
And they believe they're good enough to win, even without the guys sitting on the sideline.
"I think we have the best talent in the world," Billups said. "We've got a challenge ahead of us. Together, collectively, we have a chance to be successful."