USA Men Shoot Down Argentina 109-83; Advance to Gold Medal Game
Caroline Williams, USA Basketball
Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony Combine For Nine 3-pointers To Help Lead Team USA
London, England (August 10, 2012)
Once again 3-point daggers sent the U.S Olympic Men's Basketball Team's (7-0) opponent packing. Making 18-of-42 3-pointers, the USA finished off Argentina (4-3) 109-83 Friday night to advance to Sunday's gold medal game of the 2012 Olympics.
Leading by seven points at halftime, Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) sank two 3-pointers in an 8-0 run in the third quarter that gave the USA some breathing room, 59-46, at 6:28, and then sank two more in the stanza to help the USA take a 74-57 lead into the fourth quarter. The U.S. went on to knock down nine threes in the final stanza, including four from Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), to run away with the win.
In a rematch of the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medal game, the USA will meet Spain (5-2) at 3 p.m. (10 a.m. EDT) on Aug. 12 in the 2012 gold medal contest. Spain earned its gold medal berth after rallying against Russia (5-2) for a 67-59 semifinal win. Argentina will play Russia in the bronze medal game at 11 a.m. (6 a.m. EDT).
"We are very pleased with our performance tonight against a team that we have great respect for," said USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University). "They are just a championship caliber team with some of the greatest international players of all time, so we have to play really well in order to win.
"I thought we had our best balance so far. Kobe (Bryant) got us off to a good start. LeBron (James) really turned it on, then Kevin (Durant) and Carmelo (Anthony) followed. There was not just one guy and I thought our point guards really did a masterful job," added the USA mentor who is now 61-1 overall since taking charge of the national team coaching responsibilities in 2006.
Durant finished with 19 points on 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point, Anthony was 4-of-8 from deep on his way to 18 points and six rebounds and LeBron James (Miami Heat) added 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) paced the USA early in the game, tallying 11 of his 13 points in the first quarter, Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers) contributed 10 points and seven assists and Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets) dished out six assists. Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves) led the USA on the glass with nine rebounds to go with his nine points.
"I think we did a good job starting off with a lot of intensity on defense and moving the ball on offense," Durant said. "We knew this team was going to fight all game and make it tough on us but we did a really good job of responding when they made few runs and our defense was good. We were getting deflections and steals and able to get some easy points. When you have guys that can penetrate and past the ball like we do all you have to do is make shots. In the second half guys were looking for me and Carmelo, and we were there to hit some three's and bust the game wide open, and we are going to get ready for a tough game on Sunday."
The USA crashed the boards for a 46-29 rebounding advantage and 19 second-chance points to Argentina's five. Although both teams took care of the ball – the USA recorded just 10 turnovers and had none from its point guards, Paul or Williams. Argentina committed only 11, and the USA converted that into 23 points while Argentina scored only 12.
"We have so many weapons," Paul said. "This isn't like an NBA team where each guy comes down and says, here, take the ball and go one-on-one. When guys have open shots, they shoot them. But we have the peace of mind to know that if a guy hits four open threes in a row, we know how to get him the ball."
The USA came out firing and built an 18-6 lead thanks in part to Bryant, who sank three 3-pointers in the first 4:20 of the game. Argentina responded with a 9-0 run to cut the lead to three points, 18-15 at 1:52. The USA put up six more points to Argentina's four to finish the first quarter with a 24-19 advantage.
LeBron James tallied eight points in the first 4:49 of the second quarter and Love added four to help the USA counter two 3-pointers from Argentina's Andres Nocioni, and the USA had built a 10-point margin, 37-27, at 5:11 to force an Argentine timeout. Argentina sank three more 3-pointers in the period, including the final score of the first half – a long ball from Manu Ginobili just before the buzzer that cut the U.S. lead to seven points, 47-40 at halftime.
Ginobili pulled Argentina within four points, 47-43, to start the second half, but two free throws from Paul were followed by a tip-in from Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks) and the USA led by eight points, 51-43, at 9:07.
Ginobili again came up big for Argentina with a three-point play at 7:51, but that was the last time the South Americans would have the momentum. Durant bookended a score from Paul with 3-pointers at 7:10 and 6:28 to push the lead to 13 points, 59-46. Argentina closed to within eight points, 59-51, but this time James reversed the trend, finishing an assist from Paul and then throwing down a powerful dunk that also earned him a free throw on a foul to restore a double-digit 64-51 advantage at 3:46. Argentina scored just six more points as Durant sank two 3-pointers to help the USA compile 10 more points and a 74-57 third-quarter lead.
"We have guys on this team that can get blistering hot," stated Bryant. "They get hot quick. Me, KD (Durant) and Melo (Anthony) knocked down two shots each and all of a sudden the floodgates opened. It feels like we can't miss and it just seems like it happens instantaneously."
It rained threes for the USA in the fourth quarter, including four from Anthony in a span of 1:22, as well as two from Williams and one 3-pointer apiece from Westbrook, Durant, Harden and Paul. Overall, the USA shot its way to 35 points while Argentina score 26 to bring the game to its 109-83 final.
Ginobili led his team with 18 points, while Carlos Delfino and Luis Scola added 15 points apiece.
"I think it's only right," James said of the USA's gold-medal opponent. "Everyone has said that this is the game they want to see, so, we look forward to it. We're happy as a team to be able to be back in this position."
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