WASHINGTON » LeBron James scored 30 points and the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team rallied from an early 10-point deficit to beat Brazil 80-69 on Monday night.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden watched the Americans get off to a dismal start, then turn it around by holding the Brazilians to two baskets in the second quarter.
James helped the U.S. pull away in the final 4 minutes after they led by only seven, getting his final point on a free throw with 31 seconds left as Obama departed.
Kevin Durant added 11 in his hometown for the Americans, who leave today for Europe to complete their Olympic preparations. They face Britain in Manchester, England, on Thursday before traveling to Barcelona to play Argentina and Spain.
It’s a solid exhibition schedule, and this game showed the Americans have some work to do before they get to London.
They were just 1-for-12 from 3-point range in the first half and struggled offensively when forced to play in the halfcourt.
The president met with the men’s and women’s teams, who swept the doubleheader from Brazil. He received a loud cheer when he arrived but like the U.S. players got off to a slow start — he needed a second chance before First Lady Michelle Obama would grant him a kiss on the "Kiss Cam" segment.
Players were just walking onto the floor for the jump ball when Obama and Biden emerged from the tunnel to take their seats. The start was delayed while they greeted fans, and perhaps the break had the U.S. players out of rhythm at the beginning of the game.
James hit two free throws to open the scoring, but the Americans didn’t make their first basket until more than 21/2 minutes in after falling behind 7-2. Alex Garcia had two 3-pointers and two other baskets in the early going as Brazil pushed the lead to 17-7 barely 5 minutes into the game.