Friday, August 10, 2012
Instant Analysis: USA 109, Argentina 83
By Marc Stein
Some at-the-buzzer instant analysis of Team USA's 109-83 rout of Argentina in the Olympic semifinals from press row in London:
How it happened: In the teams' third meeting in the space of 17 days, Argentina was within seven points at the break thanks to a Manu Ginobili corner 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer. The United States' lead was down to as little as four points early in the third quarter.
Of greater concern for Team USA: Argentina had the pace where it was hoping to keep it, with the tournament's heavy favorite on track to be held under triple digits after ringing up a whopping 126 points when the teams met Monday night in the Group A finale.
Yet it took only one decent surge late in the third quarter, with LeBron James at the heart of it as usual and supplemented this time by Kevin Durant, for the United States to hike its lead to 17 by the start of the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter that followed was an avalanche, sending Team USA to Sunday's title game in far easier fashion than anticipated and consigning Argentina's Golden Generation to a bronze-medal game against Russia in perhaps the final major international tournament for the quartet of Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Carlos Delfino and Andres Nocioni.
What it means: The route to reunite these teams was on the circuitous side, but we've indeed got the gold-medal game we all expected back when the United States arrived on British soil in mid-July.
Spain certainly took the long way to get there, losing games to Russia and Brazil in pool play and falling behind by 13 points early in Friday's first semifinal against the Russians despite Andrei Kirilenko's struggles trying to play with an injured quad. But now it's on: Team USA against the Spaniards on Sunday afternoon in a rematch of the 2008 game for the gold in Beijing that the Americans didn't seize control of until the last few minutes of the fourth quarter.
Team USA is 8-1 against Spain since the introduction of the NBA players into FIBA events in 1992. And in both of Spain's trips to the Olympic final -- in 1984 and again in '08 -- it came away with silver after losing to the Americans both times.
Player of the game: Stop us if you've heard this one before.
LeBron James, anyone?
Kobe Bryant had 13 points in the first half, Carmelo Anthony uncorked one of his trademark Team USA scoring sprees with four 3s in the fourth quarter to finish with 18, while drained four 3s of his own in the third to finish with a team-high 19 for the Yanks.
But James' all-around play (18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists) and penchant for the big play at key times landed him here yet again.
"LeBron is just doing everything," Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Dirty work, clean work, leadership work. He kind of turned it up a notch in the second half and we all followed him."
Play of the game: Here's what Coach K is talking about ...
Using a screen on the left side of the floor from Kevin Love, LeBron rumbled right around the corner and into the paint faster than poor Delfino could react, bursting into the hole to rise up and hammer down a thunderous one-handed flush with 3:46 to go in the third.
When Durant soon followed with a couple of 3-pointers and James deftly guided home the rebound of Durant's errant 3 for a tip-in bucket, Team USA was on the way to a lead that would reach 25 less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.
And the rout was on.
By the numbers: In the 49th consecutive victory for the United States in international play, James' 18 points took him within two points of Michael Jordan for second place all-time among U.S. Olympians.