The threes came in a hurry. And just like that the U.S. took a 19-3 lead over Argentina. Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant couldn't miss. But then the long range jumpers stopped falling. Argentina gradually found their stroke working inside out.
A testy moment happened in the second quarter when Chris Paul got tied up with Facundo Campazzo and got called for a technical foul. That led to chest bumping from Durant and LeBron James on the American side and Andres Nocioni and Luis Scola on the Argentine side. Scola was frustrated early, a good sign for the size-deprived Americans.
Aside from the opening three-point bonanza, Argentina outplayed the U.S., especially during the last nine minutes of the game. The fear with this U.S. squad is that they fall in love with shots from beyond the arc; it's a bigger fear than their dearth of centers. The team has players who can light it up from back there, but none that are particularly consistent. Instead of settling for quick threes over zone defenses or one-on-one play against man defenses, the Americans need to utilize better ball movement. They have a team stacked with good passers.
Intense defensive pressure leading to transition dunks is the U.S.'s most effective offense. But against experienced ball handlers such as those featured on the Argentine squad (Manu Ginobili and Pablo Prigioni), that isn't always an option. Argentina only turned the ball over 13 times. Though it never seemed as if the U.S. would lose, the Americans were a little fortunate that Argentina shot an uncharacteristically low 40% from the field.
Durant ended with 27 points, 12 coming in the first quarter, and 6 assists. Kobe Bryant finally had a good scoring game with 18. LeBron added 15. Durant and LeBron both played over 30 minutes.
It must be said that it was disappointing to see Argentina pack it in at the end of the game. With the game in single digits, the veteran squad didn't foul on defense and didn't hurry on offense. The U.S. won 86-80.