From the opening-tip it looked like we were in for a blow-out. Team USA got off to a hot start, opening the game on a 14-1 run thanks to Kevin Durant draining threes like they were free-throws. Of course, the scrappiness of the Argentines kept them in the game until the final buzzer.
Durant has become Team USA’s go-to player. Since he put on a USA jersey in 2010, Durant has taken his game to a different. He was “the man” in the 2010 FIBA Championships and is starting to become “THE man” in the pre-Olympic exhibition games. He got Team USA off to a hot start, scoring nine points in the first couple of minutes of the first quarter and helped them to a 31-16 lead after the first quarter.
It looked like Argentina was going to lose by 40 points ,but things started to get chippy and Argentina started to chip-away at Team USA’s lead, cutting it down to seven points at the break. After Manu Ginobili three-point play late in the fourth quarter, Team USA was in near dire-straits.
That’s when Durant came to the rescue. With the lead trimmed-down to four points in the final minutes, Durant stepped-up and hit the biggest shot of his young Olympic career. Kobe Bryant passed the ball to LeBron James in the high-post; James pivoted and skipped it right to Durant, who had his feet set on the left-wing. Durant rose-up and buried a three-pointer over Luis Scola. The shot gave Team USA a seven-point lead. Chris Paul then sealed the deal when he buried a three-pointer off a pick-n-roll that put Team USA up eight points.
Team USA would go on to win the game 86-80, but Argentina put up a great fight. Ginobili lead Argentina with 23 points and fellow NBA players Luis Scola and Carlos Delfino finished with 14 and 15 points, respectively.
For Team USA, Durant led the way with 27 points, including 7-11 from three-point land. Bryant finished with 18 points, James with 15 and Russell Westbrook added 13. Again, Team USA shot too many three-pointers (34). I didn’t see them attack the basket like they did against Great Britain. Grant it, Argentina is a lot better than GBR but I would like to see more finishes at the rim. Their free-throw shooting was also poor (15-26) and could hurt them in a close game. Despite some of the glaring negatives, Team USA values taking care of the ball (13 turnovers). That alone, can keep you in close games.
The final result was another W for Team USA and they have one more exhibition against Spain before The Games begin. It will be Team USA’s toughest test yet and I hope they come away victorious.