Team USA basketball: Paul George says Australia plays 'a little dirty'

It was the first time the US trailed at halftime in the Olympics since its 2004 debacle.

Bogut, who looked sprier and more confident than at nearly any point during his most recent National Basketball Association season, laid out Kyrie Irving on two separate occasions in the first half and later clobbered Kevin Durant on a drive.

For comparison's sake, Brazilian legend Oscar Schmidt scored 1,093 points during his Olympic career, but unlike Anthony, he didn't have his minutes restricted while playing on powerhouse teams.

"We knew what type of situation we were coming into - a tough, physical game", Anthony, a veteran of the 2004 squad and two gold medal winners since then, said afterward.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski really tightened his rotation in the second half, mostly relying on Anthony, Irving, Jordan, Paul George and Klay Thompson.

Anthony knocked down nine 3-pointers - one shy of his US record - and finished 11 of 21 from the field.

Irving - born in Australia - added 19 points, including a 3-pointer with 1:35 left after Australia had pulled within four.

Unfazed by the U.S.' depth and athleticism, the Aussies played exactly the type of aggressive, irritating, physical ball you'd expect from a team led by Matthew Dellavedova and Andrew Bogut. It might seem odd to counsel downsizing after a game in which the Americans' work on the glass was one of the only reasons they survived.

"That's the first real worldwide game we had..." "This was the best team in the world, we are better than them and we thought we should have been in a position to grind out an even closer game". Its motion offense filled with off-ball screens and back cuts shredded the USA defense, especially in the first half when Australia shot 68% on its way to a 54-49 lead at the break.

But the US improved its defense and contained Bogut, who scored only four of his 17 points in the second half, enough to allow Anthony to take over. Both teams look like they have a great shot of ending up on the podium, although there is a lot of basketball still to be played.

Tina Charles, who finished with 15 points, got going in the second quarter to help the US extend the advantage to 22 at the half. But he can claim an NCAA title over his Banana Boat buddies, the Olympic scoring record and perhaps four gold medals after these Games.

They've said it won't come easily.

Australian star Andrew Bogut was disappointed with the final result today, telling reporters courtside that the Boomers "had every opportunity to try to push the game".

Vanessa Coleman