U.S. guard Kobe Bryant whips a no-look pass around the defense of Argentina… (Victor R. Caivano / Associated…)
LONDON -- Kobe Bryant took over the first quarter, Kevin Durant handled the third, Carmelo Anthony made his mark in the fourth and LeBron James displayed his dominance throughout.
Any doubt why the U.S. men’s basketball team destroyed Argentina, 109-83, in an Olympics men's basketball semifinal on Friday night at North Greenwich Arena? It’s called scoring depth.
The U.S. advances to Sunday’s gold-medal game against Spain in a rematch of the final won by the U.S. at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Spain downed Russia in the first semifinal.
Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James each scored 18 points for team-high honors, with James contributing six rebounds and six assists. Kevin Durant added 19 points and Kobe Bryant had 13, all in the first half.
Bryant, who sank six three-pointers in the second half of Team USA’s quarterfinal victory over Australia, made another to open his team’s scoring. He later powered home a reverse lay-in over Andres Nocioni and sank two more three-pointers as the U.S. jumped to an 18-6 lead.
But Argentina closed to within five by the first quarter’s end despite Nocioni and Luis Scola each leaving with two fouls. Carlos Delfino sank four three-pointers to keep Argentina hanging around, and Manu Ginobili swished a three-pointer from in front of the U.S. bench to beat the halftime buzzer and trim the deficit to seven, 47-40.
Just like in their Monday meeting to close pool play, Durant took over the third quarter. He sank four three-pointers as the U.S. started pulling away. For good measure, Anthony made three straight three-pointers in the fourth.
There were no physical incidents marring play. On Monday, Facundo Campazzo punched Anthony in the groin and refused to apologize afterward.
This marked the third consecutive Olympic semifinal these teams staged, with Argentina winning en route to the gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the U.S. winning in 2008.
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