LeBron James splits the Argentine defense Sunday during the U.S. men's exhibition game. The Americans win, 86-80.
U.S. women roll by Turkey by 19
ISTANBUL — After breezing through its first few exhibition games, Geno Auriemma was happy that his team was tested.
Seimone Augustus and Diana Taurasi each scored 16 points to lead the U.S. women's basketball team to an 80-61 victory over Turkey on Sunday.
Where the first three exhibitions were pretty much over in the first quarter, Turkey hung tough for 30 minutes before the U.S. slowly started to pull away.
"I think it's better for us," Auriemma said. "We had to make plays, we had to get stops and they are a really, really good team. We gave them a lot of life. We missed a lot of opportunities that would have made it much easier for us. Maybe in the long run that's better, too.
"It's easy to win when you shoot 70 percent, another thing when you shoot 35 percent in the first half and are able to beat a really good team by 19."
It was the final tuneup for the Americans before the Olympics start next weekend. The U.S. will train for two more days in Istanbul before heading to London on Wednesday.
"They exposed some of our flaws and weaknesses and we have four more practices to fix them and then we're on the big stage," Auriemma said.
The U.S. struggled against its hosts, who were buoyed by a spirited crowd which booed and whistled every time the Americans touched the ball.
Turkey hung tough with the top-ranked team in the world in the first meeting between the countries.
"Turkey's a really good team. A lot of us have played here, played against them," Taurasi said. "They don't fear anyone. They went into the game with a really good game plan. They'll be a tough team in London. For us it was good to be tested like that and see some of the resolve we have."
Taurasi was one of six American players who have played in Turkey and she knows all about the fierce rivalry between teams Fenerbahce and Galatasaray.
She started with Fenerbahce before switching over to Galatasaray. Taurasi was playing for Fenerbahce in 2010 when she was provisional suspended for using a banned substance. The suspension was lifted nearly two months later when the lab that returned the positive test retracted its report.
When she returned to Turkey last season, she changed to rival Galatasaray.
Augustus, Tina Charles, Sylvia Fowles and Tamika Catchings have played for Galatasaray, while Angel McCoughtry suited up for rival Fenerbahce.
Think Connecticut-Tennessee and magnify that by 100, according to Tamika Catchings, who received a stuffed bear from one of the Gala fans Saturday night before the Americans' rout of Croatia.
"It's a different level," said Catchings, who turned 33 on Saturday. "You grow up liking a team because of your heritage. They grow up diehard fans. They know the chants. They know everything. Going to another team is unthinkable."
While the Americans will be aiming for their fifth straight gold medal, Turkey will be playing in its first Olympics next week. The Turks qualified by beating Argentina in the final qualifying tournament they hosted last month.
"I'm trying not to think about it because I don't want to get overwhelmed. It's going to be the first for all of us. At one point it's going to be a little emotional," said Quanitra Hollingsworth, who led Turkey with 16 points. "Come game time we'll have to be ready to work."
Hollingsworth, who was born in the U.S. and starred at VCU, became naturalized to play for Turkey in May. She was first approached by the Turks to play for them in January and it became official two months ago.
"It was very quick. Initially they pursued me and said they were interested," she said. "I know a lot of the players on the U.S. team and recognized it would be an opportunity for me to go to the Olympics. It also gives me a lot of other benefits that I can be a European player. I recognized the talent on this team and figured it was blessing for me to take this step."
The two teams are in the same pool at the Olympics and will play on Aug. 1. The Americans open up their Olympic play on July 28 against Croatia. Other teams in their group are China, Angola and the Czech Republic.
BARCELONA, Spain — Dressed like the Dream Team, tested like its predecessor never was.
The U.S. Olympic men's basketball team held on for an 86-80 exhibition victory over Argentina on Sunday, insisting it didn't expect an easy game and not believing there's benefit to one, anyway.
"I love it. You hate to breeze through exhibition games and then you get into London, and then you start getting competitive," U.S. forward LeBron James said. "So we have a very good team. It doesn't matter about how many points you win by, you just want to play well and get better that night, and I feel like we got better tonight."
Kevin Durant scored 27 points for the Americans, who wore the throwback uniforms of the 1992 Dream Team for their return to Barcelona. They looked like the Hall of Fame squad during a superb opening 10 minutes, but their lead was down to four with 2:50 left after Manu Ginobili's three-point play.
Durant and Chris Paul then hit big 3-pointers as the Americans won after being pushed for the second time in their four exhibition games. Kobe Bryant added 18 points and James had 15 for the U.S., which beat Brazil 80-69 in a similarly rugged game last week in Washington.
"It's tough. Argentina's a very good team, very tough-minded," Bryant said. "They continue to play hard and for us it was a big challenge to try to put the game away, we could just never do it."
Ginobili scored 23 points, Carlos Delfino had 15 and Luis Scola 14 for Argentina.
Back in Barcelona, where the Dream Team won gold 20 years earlier in historic and overwhelmingly easy fashion, the U.S. players wore that team's throwback uniforms. The white uniforms with red and blue along the side and USA in the middle also had the letters "CD" in gold on the left shoulder in honor of Chuck Daly, the Dream Team coach who died in 2009.
"Those uniforms was nice," said Carmelo Anthony, wearing the No. 15 of Magic Johnson. "In the locker room, everybody was taking pictures with the uniforms. It just brings back so many memories from back then in '92."
Otherwise, the Americans are more interested in building for London than reflecting too much on the past. Coach Mike Krzyzewski, a Dream Team assistant, made that clear Saturday at practice when he was asked about the old days.
"I'm not here to sight see ... this isn't me doing a reminisce tour in my retirement," he said.
The two games here should certainly help them get ready. The Americans play Spain on Tuesday, a rematch of their 118-107 win in the gold-medal game four years ago.
First was Argentina, which won the 2004 Olympic gold medal, beating the U.S. in the semifinals. The Americans returned the favor four years later in the same round before recapturing the gold.
Krzyzewski unveiled another starting lineup, with James, Durant, Bryant, Paul and Tyson Chandler. He has alternated the Durant- Anthony and Paul-Deron Williams combination, with the other three spots set.
The first group got off to a sensational start, Durant opening with two 3-pointers before Bryant's basket made it 8-0. Scola made a free throw before Bryant and Durant nailed 3s and Bryant dunked to make it 16-1 not even three minutes into the game.
The lead grew to 19-3 on Bryant's 3-pointer, and Durant and Williams each hit one in the final minute as the Americans led 31-16 on the strength of seven 3-pointers.
"They're immensely talented," Scola said. "They've got a lot of players in every position. They're too athletic, they're too talented. I think they're going to be OK."
The Americans led by 20 early in the second, but like in their 101-81 victory in the Beijing semifinals, they began fouling too much and let Argentina get back into it with its feisty, physical play.
This "friendly" — Scola and Kevin Love even appeared together at midcourt before the game to address the crowd, after Love was suspended two games during the NBA season for stepping on him — didn't stay that way. Paul fouled guard Facundo Campazzo, who fell to the court after Paul appeared to hold onto him too long, with 5:33 left in the half and the U.S. up 14. Some words and light pushes were exchanged, Scola and Andres Nocioni involved along with Anthony and Durant.
Argentina kept fighting, cutting it all the way to 45-40 in the last minute of the half before going into the break down by seven.
"I think we competed, pretty much the whole game," Scola said. "We started bad, we've been starting bad this whole preparation. That's going to be a problem for us. We have to fix that and then they hit a lot of shots. Obviously they're capable of hitting shots."
A contender for a podium spot for nearly a decade, Argentina is hoping the run isn't over for its "Golden Generation." The Argentines didn't medal in the 2010 worlds — though Ginobili didn't play — and were beaten by Spain by 20 on Friday. Ginobili is 34, Scola and Andres Nocioni are 32, Knicks-bound guard Pablo Prigioni is 35, Fabricio Oberto no longer plays, and the Argentines haven't found younger talent like they had in this group, which also won silver in the 2002 world basketball championship.
But they don't go down easily, even when the game doesn't count. After James threw down two dunks to open the fourth quarter and push the U.S. lead to 15, the Argentines got it back to 10 midway through the period after Ginobili scored five straight points, and they had one more burst in them.
But Durant followed Ginobili's three-point play with a 3-pointer, and Paul's 3 with 2:08 remaining made it an eight-point game, plenty of cushion for the last 2 minutes.
The teams will meet again in their final pool play matchup in London. The Americans believe games like this one will have them more ready for that.
"At the end of the day, as long as you win the basketball game. That's what we were talking about at halftime," Anthony said. "We try to come out and put teams away right away, and sometimes it's not going to be that way, like tonight. It just wasn't one of those games."