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U.S. men defeat Argentina, 126-97, in men's Olympic basketball

Kevin Durant scores 17 of his 28 points in the third quarter to help the U.S. extend a one-point halftime lead. Tempers flare when Carmelo Anthony is punched in the groin by Argentina's point guard.

August 07, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times
  • Kevin Durant celebrates hitting one of his eight three-point baskets against Argentina Monday.
Kevin Durant celebrates hitting one of his eight three-point baskets against… (Eric Gay / Associated Press )

LONDON — The U.S. men's basketball team keeps calling the Olympics a global game, espousing the importance of befriending opposing countries as much as possible.

Unless the U.S. is hit below the equator.

Tempers flared when Carmelo Anthony was punched in the groin by Argentina's point guard, obscuring a 126-97 U.S. victory Monday in the final game of preliminary play.

Anthony made a three-pointer at the end of the third quarter but crumpled to the court and rolled around for several seconds at Olympic Park basketball arena. Tyson Chandler took several steps toward Argentina's bench, and Kevin Durant was hit with a technical foul for displaying his unhappiness.

This wasn't Charles Barkley elbowing an Angolan player. It was the reverse — someone picking on the U.S.

Or trying to, anyway, in front of a late-night crowd that included First Lady Michelle Obama and former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

"I'm really sorry," said Facundo Campazzo, though he wasn't entirely remorseful.

Listed at 5 feet 10, Campazzo added that he wouldn't actually apologize to Anthony because Chris Paul knocked the wind out of him earlier in the game with a forearm shot to the chest while they were both above the three-point line.

"Chris Paul didn't apologize to me," Campazzo said, shrugging.

Paul neither confirmed nor denied he drilled Campazzo, saying they "got tangled up 1,000 times" during the game.

Anthony, for his part, was decidedly unhappy.

"For someone to do that when you're shooting, it was a cheap shot," he said. "But we move on."

Punches, non-apologies and everything else aside, the U.S. moved into the quarterfinals with a Wednesday date against Australia after finishing 5-0 in preliminary play.

Durant scored 17 of his 28 points in the third quarter as the U.S. extended quickly from a 60-59 halftime lead. He finished eight for 10 from three-point range, showing almost the same touch as Anthony last week against Nigeria (nine for 11 from long distance).

LeBron James had 18 points and Paul scored 17.

The third-quarter offensive flurry almost made people forget that the U.S. hadn't looked sharp for three halves of basketball, including a surprisingly languid 99-94 victory over Lithuania.

Argentina shot 63% in the first half and made all 14 of its free throws as U.S. fans shifted in their seats.

Manu Ginobili had 16 points for Argentina, which suited up three other NBA players: Luis Scola, Carlos Delfino and Andres Nocioni.

Point guard Pablo Prigioni, a free-agent signee of the New York Knicks, didn't play because of kidney stones.

It left an opening for Campazzo to start, which might have opened up an interesting story line if the teams meet again in the semifinals.

Kobe Bryant spoke to Campazzo at midcourt after the game.

"I just said he was wrong. You don't do that," Bryant said. "He knows."

Argentina (3-2) would have to beat Brazil (4-1) in a quarterfinal to see the U.S. again.

The U.S. will be a huge favorite over Australia (3-2) in its quarterfinal.

In other games Monday, Australia beat Russia, 82-80; Lithuania beat Tunisia, 76-63; France beat Nigeria, 79-73; Britain beat China, 90-58; and Brazil beat Spain, 88-82.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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