SHANGHAI, China They caught each other's eye as they emerged from locker rooms on opposite sides of the hall, stepping through throngs of Chinese reporters and a smattering of international journalists to acknowledge, embrace and whisper first privately a hotel room number in order to meet up later that night, and then share words of encouragement.
Just like you'd expect from teammates, rather than opponents.
For 40 minutes Sunday afternoon at the Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena, the Utah Jazz frontline tandem of Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko were just that teammates-turned-foes.
Actually, the Jazz combo was really a trio in the Shanghai spotlight Sunday afternoon, with Boozer and Utah guard Deron Williams part of the United States men's Olympic basketball team that posted an 89-68 before-Beijing warm-up win over the Kirilenko-led Russian Olympic squad.
Game MVP Kobe Bryant led the Americans with 19 points, while fellow starter Carmelo Anthony added 17 and reserve Dwyane Wade 16 on a combined 19-of-30 shooting.
Williams played just under 20 minutes, finishing with 2-of-3 shooting including a 3-pointer at the end of the opening quarter and five points to go along with a game-best nine assists and two steals.
He also earned some specific postgame praise from U.S. head coach Mike Kryzewski: "Deron Williams' floor game was sensational tonight."
Scoring two points on a game-low 4:52 playing time, Boozer's cameo-like appearance came in the second quarter, when all three Jazz teammates were on the floor at the same time.
About the only thing that kept Qizhong Arena becoming the Chinese equivalent of EnergySolutions Arena was a long 3-pointer from Mehmet Okur and a toboggan slide down the stairway by Jazz mascot Bear.
While both Boozer and Williams are both coming off the U.S. bench, Kirilenko is the Russians' obvious star on Sunday he led the team with 18 points, eight rebounds, four assists, a blocked shot and he added a steal as well.
Both Williams and Boozer liked what they saw in Kirilenko's play and hope that he contributes in similar fashion next season.
"We look forward to him doing for us more of what he did today," said Boozer, adding "AK was so aggressive and very confident he played great. Let me tell you, if we can get that out of him in Utah, whew, we might be cutting the nets down."
Kirilenko called the Jazz threesome's appearance as "interesting" but talked more as if he were envious of the other squad.
"If you take a look, the American team has probably the best players at every position," he said. "It's very tough to play against them, especially for the whole 40 minutes. Sometimes you can take a rest, but here you can't take a rest you need to really control the tempo for the whole 40 minutes."
Williams ended up playing double the minutes of starting point guard Jason Kidd and at times joined fellow reserve point Chris Paul on the court against Russia playing the No. 2 guard spot.
"I don't think he (Kidd) wants to play 30 minutes a game," said Williams, "so me and Chris are there to give him a spell and provide energy off the bench."
Now 3-0 in the Toyota International Challenge after victories in Macau against Turkey and Lithuania preceded Sunday's win, the United States closes out its four-game pre-Olympic exhibition tour with Tuesday night's game against Australia, which features former University of Utah center Andrew Bogut.The Americans begin Beijing Olympic pool play Sunday against host China in what is expected to garner the biggest global television audience ever.
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