U.S. forward Kevin Durant (5), who scored 17 points against Argentina in… (Charles Krupa / Associated…)
LONDON -- It had been, oh, about three halves since the U.S. played solid basketball.
But a strong 20 minutes came, finally, the U.S. emerging from a one-point halftime lead to win handily against Argentina, 126-97, in an Olympic preliminary game Monday.
It was better than anything the U.S. showed in a 99-94 victory over Lithuania. And it helped everyone forget how vulnerable Team USA had looked after its record-setting victory over Nigeria.
Kevin Durant had 28 points, 17 in the third quarter, and made eight of 10 three-point attempts, showing almost the same touch Carmelo Anthony had against Nigeria (nine of 11 from long distance).
The U.S. finished the preliminary round with a 5-0 mark. The Americans will play Australia on Wednesday in a quarterfinal.
LeBron James had 18 points and Kevin Love added 11. Manu Ginobili had 16 points for Argentina.
Tempers flared at the end of the third quarter when Anthony got punched in the groin by Facundo Campazzo while shooting a three-point attempt.
Anthony rolled around on the court for several seconds. Tyson Chandler took several steps toward Argentina's bench, and Durant was hit with a technical foul for displaying his unhappiness. Argentina's Juan Pedro Gutierrez was also hit with a technical foul.
Gabby Douglas takes on criticism of her hair
Marlen Esparza assures herself of a medal in women's boxing
U.S. beats Canada, 4-3, in overtime of women's soccer semifinal