The Black Mamba isn’t Australia‘s native snake, but the Australian national basketball team was struck not once, twice, or three but four times in a matter of a minute. Perhaps the fourth time proved to be the most lethal strike, as it helped Team USA extend its lead to 105-80 with 4:46 left in the fourth quarter.
Australia has never beaten the United States in FIBA or Olympic play and that streak continued yesterday as Team USA was led by LeBron James‘ triple-double (11, 14, and 11) and Kobe Bryant‘s 20 second half points. This was the second toughest game the United States has played thus far in the tournament. Australia kept hanging around, trimming the USA’s lead to as little as five points in the third quarter.
The United States bumped the lead back up to 14 points when the third quarter ended.
In the fourth quarter is when Bryant and Team USA blew the game wide open. A James rebound and pass quickly led to a Bryant three-pointer. Good ball movement on the next USA possession led to the same result, James to Bryant for three. A Kevin Love rebound led to a Bryant transition three. Bryant then stole the ball on the next possession and pulled up from deep to bury his fourth straight three-pointer and sixth for the game.
That was all she wrote.
Team USA outscored Australia 35-16 in the fourth, en route to a 119-86 victory and another date with their rival Argentina on Friday.
The United States hit 19 more three-pointers during Thursday’s matchup. Kevin Durant added 14 points, joining James and Bryant as the only starters to score in double-figures. Deron Williams had 18 off the bench, followed by Carmelo Anthony’s 17 and Love’s double-double (10 and 11).
It’s clear that James has become the leader of this team and I think it’s clear who holds the torch in the NBA now.
The United States will need contributions from everyone as they prepare for Argentina for the third time in a month.
It’s hard to beat a team three times; but if any team can do it, it would be this team.