Argentina gave the United States a tough game as always. Similar to the semifinal round in 2008 and the exhibition game this summer against Argentina, the U.S. soared to a big early first quarter lead. Up 18-6, the offense stalled a bit.
Interestingly, the U.S.'s second team has struggled more than does the first team defensively against Argentina. That's because Argentina is able to move the ball off pick-and-roll, taking advantage of the second team's overplay. Pablo Prigioni had 6 assist, Facundo Campazzo 4, Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino 3 a piece. Delfino's first half scoring got Argentina back into the game.
Kobe Bryant had a scoring burst in the first quarter. He ended with 13. But Argentina hung around and the score was 47-40 at the half. Chris Paul was expert at dissecting the Argentine zone.
In the the third, the threes poured all over Argentina's heads. A key play involved LeBron James (18, 7, 7) throwing a nifty pass to Kevin Durant (19 points) under the basket. Durant whipped the ball out to an open Carmelo Anthony (18 points, 6 rebounds) in the corner. Anthony bricked the three, but James grabbed the rebound and hit a cutting Anthony. Anthony unselfishly threw the ball out to an open Durant who had drifted out to the three point line. Durant nailed the three.
The difference between the decent first half and the avalanche of the second half was not much more than making open shots. When the U.S. hits a couple of threes in a row, their confidence builds. That explains all of those quarter-long scoring outbursts from different players. Much of the U.S. team is filled with streaky shooters. The defense begins to lose heart. The combination results in blowouts. That's essentially what happened today against Argentina.
The U.S. won 109-83. American plays Spain in the gold medal game. In the knockout round, the U.S. will have the same path, Australia-Argentina-Spain as they did in 2008. In this game against Argentina, the game took a little more than an hour and half. That was due to a lack of fouls. That spelled doom for Argentina, who needs to muck things up and ground the game to halt to win against the U.S.
A couple of other notes. There was a plethora of countries' flags that had nothing to do with the men's basketball semifinal round. There also seems to be an epidemic of coaches picking their noses.