Kevin Durant can flat-out score. The young swingman led the way for the American squad with 28 points on 9-for-12 shooting including an incredible 8-for-10 output from the 3-point line. Lebron James flanked KD with 18 points and 5 assists, while Chris Paul added 17 points, 7 assists, and a wildly efficient 6-for-7 shooting night to key the offense.
In the 1st quarter, both teams got off to quick offensive starts. The US managed to make 7 threes in the opening 10-minute frame, and Argentina started the game 6-8 from the field and never really cooled off. The Argentinians led 15-14 after that scorching start, and some questionable US shot selection from the 3-point line really let them stay in the game. After backup center Juan Gutierrez knocked down a rainbow 3 to take a 30-29 lead, Kevin Durant answered with a buzzer-beating triple (off of a nice pass from Andre Iguodala) to cap the quarter at 34-32.
The story of the 2nd quarter was very similar. The offense slowed a bit on both sides, but a 27-26 Argentinian advantage in the frame was indicative of the back-and-forth game. In short, the US couldn’t get a stop on the defensive end, and while the offense was potent, they couldn’t pull away. Argentina shot a blistering 56% from the field in the first half, and looked poised to compete for the entire 40 minutes.
And then… the 3rd quarter started. Lebron James scored the first 7 points in the 3rd quarter for the US before giving way to an absolutely unconscious Kevin Durant. Durant scored 17 points in the 3rd quarter alone, connecting on 5-of-6 threes including about a 28-footer for the 5th installment. The US offense was completely unguardable in the quarter, scoring 42 points (in 10 minutes!) and at the same time, holding Argentina to just 17 on the other end.
The final set of real fireworks took place as Carmelo Anthony drained another dagger three at the end of the 3rd quarter while taking a simultaneous cheap shot from Facundo Campazzo. This altercation set off a slew of technical fouls and jawing, but the game was, for all intensive purposes, over at this point.
The US finished with 6 guys in double-figures including 13 a piece from Kevin Love and Andre Iguodala off the bench. The team also put up 29 assists to just 8 turnovers, while dominating the glass by a 46-to-28 margin. Argentina was led by Manu Ginobili’s 16 points, and a balanced scoring effort with 6 players in double digits.
America will be in action in the 1st round of Knockout play on Wednesday at 5:15 eastern time as they face-off with Patty Mills and Australia.