Wed, Jul 30, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Top reserves compete for time with US team

AP , MACAU

The US Olympic basketball team’s Kobe Bryant, right, practices during a training session in Macau yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

Four potent offensive threats, four exhibition games. That’s all the time Mike Krzyzewski has to decide how to use his top perimeter reserves before the Olympics.

Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Michael Redd are all perhaps the top players on their NBA teams.

The best that one of them can hope for right now with the US is to be the sixth man.

“The challenge that he’s facing is to find what combination works best with what, at what time in the game,” starting guard Kobe Bryant said before practice yesterday. “It’s a position that I certainly don’t envy.”

The US’ starting lineup is set, with Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd and Dwight Howard holding those spots since last summer with the undefeated team in the Olympic qualifier. The rest could take a little while to decide.

“I’m sure it’d be hard to manage minutes on this whole team,” Williams said. “You’ve got guys, any of them could be playing 40 minutes a game. But that’s what’s good about our team, that we’re so deep nobody has to play many minutes, so we’re always going to be fresh ... keep the energy level up, keep the defensive intensity up.”

All four played well in the US’ first exhibition, a 120-65 rout of Canada on Friday in Las Vegas. Wade and Redd each scored 20 points, Williams finished with 14, and Paul had 11 points and eight assists. Krzyzewski said following the game that the team’s strength was its perimeter play.

Wade started because James was resting a sprained ankle, but he’s headed back to the bench with James practicing again. Krzyzewski seemed to indicate Wade would be the first player off the bench, as he was two years ago in the world championships, with James or Anthony sliding to the power forward spot if need be.

But a slow start could mean Paul, because his speed makes him a perfect change-of-pace option after Kidd. Or a poor start from the perimeter could mean Redd, one of the best outside shooters in the NBA who went 6-of-8 from behind the arc on Friday.

Williams and Paul played together in the backcourt in that game.

Things will start to get sorted out this week, with games here Thursday against Turkey, and Friday against Lithuania.

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