When you have some of the most potent scoring machines on one team, you’re bound to blow out your opponent and seem almost unbeatable.
That was the case on Friday, as the United States defeated Argentina 109-83 and advanced to the Gold Medal game against Spain as the Top-4 NBA scorers from last season, LeBron James (18 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds), Kobe Bryant (13 points), Kevin Durant (19 points), and Carmelo Anthony (18 points) led the way, though in a different sequence of scoring.
San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (18 points), Phoenix Suns forward Luis Scola (15 points), and Carlos Delfino (15 points) did all they could for one half of basketball, but in the end it was the American scoring machines who prevailed with just too much firepower. Here’s the rundown.
First quarter: Argentina (ARG) 19, USA 24
Player of the quarter (ARG): Scola, Ginobili – Both Argentine’s combined for 11 points in the first quarter, as Scola scored six by hitting his 15-foot jumper and working in the paint, while Ginobili made a 3-pointer and an inside shot.
Player of the quarter (USA): Bryant – Bryant, mainly using his outside shooting ability, scored 11 points in the first quarter to lead the U.S with his three made 3-pointers.
Second quarter: ARG 40, USA 47
Player of the quarter (ARG): Delfino, Ginobili, Scola – When the lead began to stretch for the U.S, Delfino was key with his outside shooting. Delfino knocked down 3-of-6 three pointers for 13 points by the half, while Scola poured in four more points. Ginobili was quiet for the majority of the second, gaining rest on the bench, but his 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer was key in giving Argentina some momentum at the half, instead of going into halftime down 10 points. Ginobili had eight points after three quarters.
Player of the quarter (USA): James, Kevin Love – James, being the key playmaker for this U.S. squad, took control in the second quarter by missing just one 3-pointer, but making 5-of-5 inside attempts for 10 points, four assists, and three rebounds at the half. Love was a recipient of some of those passes as he scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in the second quarter. The U.S. struggled from the outside in the first half, shooting just 5-of-17 from distance, due to the zone defense played by Argentina.
Third quarter: ARG 57, USA 74
Player of the quarter (ARG): Ginobili – Ginobili would do what he could to score 10 more points in the third quarter, to finish with 18 points, but the U.S. defense just continued to play relentless defense on him. The Americans used multiple defenders to continue to try to contain Ginobili. He saw moments where Bryant, James, and even Russell Westbrook would take turns defending him.
Player of the quarter (USA): Durant, James, defense – Durant blew the lid off the basket as he sunk four 3-pointers in the third for 16 points after three, 12 in the third quarter. James continued to open the lanes up for his teammates, especially when he drove in through the heart of the Argentine defense for a monster slam-dunk. James had 18 points, six rebounds, and six assists after three quarters.
With the U.S. doing everything it could to slow down Ginobili, Argentina’s offense was majorly affected. The U.S. defense held Argentina to just 17 points in the third quarter.
Fourth quarter: ARG 83, USA 109
Player of the quarter (USA): Anthony – Anthony helped the United States put the game away with his four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, where he finished the game with 18 points.
Manu after four quarters: Ginobili didn't play much in the fourth as the game was already out of reach, but he led Argentina with 18 points on 7-fo-15 shooting, two rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, and three turnovers in 28 minutes of play.
For Ginobili and Argentina, this was likely the last time the "Golden Generation" of he, Scola, Delfino, Andres Nocioni, and Pablo Prigioni will face the Americans in international play after their tenured history together.
Argentina will face Russia in the Bronze Medal game at 5:00 AM CST on Sunday, while the U.S. will defend its 2008 Gold Medal against Spain at 9:00 AM CST on Sunday.