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Saturday, August 23, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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NBA

Notebook: Venezuelans fall short in U.S. show

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The latest victory for the U.S. Olympic qualifying team came with a soundtrack — the repeated roar of "Whoa" from the crowd — that kept them from playing their best.

Several members of the American team put on a dunking exhibition during the pregame layup line, and the show kept going in the first quarter as the United States defeated Venezuela 98-69 last night.

But in winning for the third straight night at the Olympic qualifying tournament, the Americans did it with a mixture of flair and sloppiness — seeming to lose their focus after opening an early 20-point lead.

Venezuela stuck around and pulled within 12 late in the third quarter, but the Americans did enough to keep from being seriously threatened.

The crowd — especially the people in the $19 seats on the third level — roared with appreciation during the layup drills as Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Richard Jefferson and others pulled off several breathtaking dunks.

There was more of the same early in the game, beginning with a windmill dunk by McGrady off an alley-oop pass from Allen Iverson for an 8-4 lead.

A dunk by Elton Brand early in the second quarter got the lead up to 38-18, but the Americans started to make careless mistakes and had trouble executing against Venezuela's steady diet of zone defenses.

The lead shrunk to 12 midway through the third quarter on a drive by Carlos Morris, but Iverson beat everyone downcourt for a layup to start a 9-3 run that ended with a steal and dunk by McGrady for a 76-57 lead.

McGrady led the United States with 16 points.

Victor Diaz had 16 points for Venezuela.

Notes

• A University of Iowa student was charged with threatening to kill the woman accusing the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant of sexual assault.

John William Roche, 22, was arrested Thursday afternoon for allegedly leaving a profanity-laced message on the accuser's answering machine July 27, according to a federal grand-jury indictment.

Roche is charged with making a threatening telephone call across state lines. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A friend, Elliot Schwind, described Roche as a "sports fanatic" who had been drinking all day.

• Forward Tony Massenburg signed with the Sacramento Kings, tying Chucky Brown's league record by joining his 12th franchise. Massenburg, a 12-year veteran, spent most of last season with the Utah Jazz.

• Minnesota signed Kirk Penney, a free-agent guard from Wisconsin who wasn't selected in this year's draft.

 

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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