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United States 119, China 58

July 11, 1996 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) _ On what was likely Charles Barkley’s last night as a member of the Phoenix Suns, his fans made him feel at home one last time as they said goodbye.

``The fans made me feel very special tonight,″ he said.

Barkley returned to Phoenix as a Dream Teamer, dominating the show Wednesday night in a 119-58 romp over China.

Barkley, who expects a trade to Houston to be announced Thursday, was cheered every time he touched the ball. With one minute left, he re-entered for an encore appearance after the crowd chanted ``We Want Charles.″


``We never won a championship in my fours years here, but the fans always stayed with us every single day,″ he said. ``My gripe is with the organization, not with the people of Phoenix.″

Barkley got a standing ovation as the game ended, and he acknowledged the adulation with a wave. He finished with 11 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.

The Olympic team, playing the third game of a five-game exhibition tour, had no problem doing as it pleased against China.

The United States shot 69 percent, had 24 dunks and scored 44 points off turnovers in the most lopsided game of their tour. The next game is Friday night against Australia in Salt Lake City.

Reggie Miller scored 16 points, Grant Hill had 14 and Scottie Pippen 12. The 61-point final margin was the largest of the game.

The United States opened the game with a fullcourt press, but abandoned it after taking a 9-0 lead and seeing that China had trouble even inbounding against the pressure.

The score was 26-13 by the time China tried a shot from inside, and the only suspense after that was whether anyone on the U.S. squad could match the windmill jam thrown down by Wei-Dong Hu to make it 41-31.

John Stockton made sure of that, getting assists on three consecutive fastbreak dunks by Karl Malone, Pippen and David Robinson in an 11-0 run that built the lead to 19.

Pippen had the assist on another highlight-reel dunk, a pass off the backboard that Robinson slammed through to open a 23-point lead before halftime, and Pippen was on the receiving end of a similar pass in the second half.

The United States had only four jump shots _ the rest were dunks, layups and foul shots _ in a 50-14 run in the second half.

The crowd called for Barkley to get on last shot in the final minute, but China milked the clock and the United States never got a final attempt.

``I had hoped to finish my career here, but I wish the Suns the best,″ said Barkley, who expects to be dealt to the Rockets in a three-way trade that would send Dikembe Mutombo to Phoenix and Robert Horry and Sam Cassell to Denver.

All trades are currently on hold until the league collective bargaining agreement is signed by 5 p.m. EDT Thursday.

``I’m still a hell of a player and can still be the best player on a championship team,″ Barkley said. ``I’ve done a lot for the Suns in four years and I deserved to be treated better. Things just went bad.

``If they came to me and sat down and said, `Listen, we’re just idiots,′ that would make me feel better.″

Wang Zhi-Zhi, a 7-foot-1 center, led China with 12 points. The Chinese were 1-for-12 on 3-pointers after going 7-for-10 in the first 14 minutes.

``They’re shooting the ball better than I’ve ever seen them shoot it, and I was impressed with that big kid,″ U.S. coach Lenny Wilkens said.