Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Durant explodes in 3rd quarter as Team USA trounces Argentina 126-97

By Kshell

For the second straight game the United States was in a battle with their opponent at halftime. With the United States only leading 60-59 at halftime against Argentina a team they struggled beating in an exhibition game two weeks ago it was looking like the U.S. was going to be upset. Then Kevin Durant scored 17 of his game high 28 points in the third quarter as the United States outscored Argentina 42-17 to put the game away. The United States ended pool play going 5-0 as they were the only team to go unbeaten in pool play. Now the tournament begins where it is single elimination. The United States had moments where they were tested in these five games but they also had moments of pure dominance. When the United States is making their three point shots nobody in the world can stay close with them. The U.S. just has too much fire power on their roster for other countries to keep up.

In the first half team USA led 34-32 after the first quarter only to be outscored 27-26 in the second quarter to take a 60-59 lead at halftime. After escaping the previous meeting and their previous game many expected team USA to come out in full force. This Argentina team is very talented with NBA players Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Carlos Delfino and Andres Nocioni leading the way. Ginobili in the first half was doing what he does in the NBA which is flop and get calls to go his way. Once again team USA was facing their toughest challenge this year in the first half as this was their smallest lead at halftime. Unlike the previous game against Lithuania the United States busted out with a big third quarter to blow the game wide open. The United States has proven they can produce big long stretches of greatness when they need to. What they need to stop doing though is coast which they had been doing for one and a half games.

In the third quarter the United States outscored Argentina 42-17 led by Kevin Durant scoring 17 points. The United States then coasted to a 126-97 taking care of business as they were bombing three pointers. The U.S. shot 45-88(51.1%) from the field, 20-39(51.2%) from three point range and 16-20(80.0%) from the free throw line. They dominated the rebounds out-rebounding Argentina 47-33 including 20 offensive.Also had 29 assists to only eight turnovers as well. The United States was led by Kevin Durant who scored 28 points on 9-12 shooting including 8-10 from three point range while grabbing four rebounds, dishing out four assists and recording three steals. Lebron James once again had another good game scoring 18 points on 7-12 shooting including a three pointer and making all three free throws. James also added three rebounds and five assists. Chris Paul scored 17 points on six for seven shooting including five for six on three pointers with seven assists. Andre Iguodola  scored 13 points on six for nine shooting including a three pointer while grabbing nine rebounds. Kevin Love also scored 13 points on five for seven shooting including a three pointer with nine rebounds. Kobe Bryant scored 11 points on 3-10 shooting  with a three pointer and made all four free throws. Team USA really picked it up in the second half in making 20 three pointers in the game which made it tough for Argentina to keep up.

For Argentina they hung with the Americans for a half but that was all. They would shoot 33-65(50.8%) from the field, 10-26(38.4%) and 21-28(75.0%) from the free throw line. They only had 16 turnovers which against the United States is pretty good. They were led by Manu Ginobili who scored 16 points on four for seven shooting including a three pointer while making all seven free throws. Ginobili would also have six assists and five rebounds. Carlos Delfino scored 13 points on 5-12 shooting including going two for seven on three pointers. Andres Nocioni finished with 12 points on 5-10 shooting with two three pointers. Luis Scola scored 11 points on four for eight shooting. Argentina just couldn't keep up with a much more focused United States team in the third quarter. When the United States is playing at their best nobody in the world can hang within 20 points of them.

The United States is 5-0 but has struggled in four of the five games in the first half. The key is the United States is so talented they can turn it on at any moment led by Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony during these Olympics. When someone has an off night they have so many weapons who can pick up the slack. With running James at center that allows the United States to have five guys on the court who can all hit three pointers, score in the paint and the ability to create turnovers on defense. The United States wants to keep attacking pushing the score as nobody can keep up with the. They want games to be a track race as nobody can keep up. In the future I'm sure teams will try to stall the ball a little bit more and work the clock to slow the United States down. For now the United States showed they are still the best in the world as they won their 47th international game in a row.


- Lebron James is still the best player in the world in these Olympics. He is showing everyone why he is so great because for the bulk of these Olympics he is playing center while also bringing the ball up the court. James finished with 18 points, five assists and three rebounds. He carried team USA down the stretch of the Lithuania game scoring 9 of his 20 points in the final four minutes. For most of group play the United States hasn't needed James to do much but he is still producing. In group play James is averaging 11.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 4.4 APG while shooting 25-41(61.0%) from the field. James stats took a hit in the big blowout against Nigeria when he didn't have to do much but as you can see he is filling up the stat sheet. He is also shooting extremely well in these Olympics and has already proven at any moment he can light up the scoreboard if this team needs him to do that.

- Chris Paul finally had a break out game. Paul finished with 17 on six for seven shooting including five for six on three point shots. He also had seven assists. For Paul who finished 3rd in the MVP race this past season he had struggled early on but has picked up the last couple of games which has been nice to see. Paul during these Olympics is averaging 7.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG and leading the team with 5.8 assists per game. He is shooting 15-29(51.7%) from the field and 8-17(47.1%) from three point range. With Paul playing well to go along with James, Anthony and Durant this team is dangerous. The United States just needs another super star to get his game going.

- Kobe Bryant has been struggling during these Olympics. It could be that he is 33 and having played in 16 NBA seasons which saw 15 make the NBA playoffs. In those 15 playoff appearances he advanced passed the first round in 13 of those, made eight western conference finals and seven NBA Finals. Meaning he is a ton of mileage on those legs. Bryant finished this game shooting 3-10 scoring only 11 points and last game was 1-7 shooting meaning he has been 4-17(23.5%) the last two games. He has also been getting burned on defense and with the exception of the first quarter against Nigeria hasn't looked like the Kobe Bryant we've all watched through the years.

During these Olympics Bryant is averaging 9.4 PPG, 1.4 RPG and only 0.8 APG. He is shooting 14-36(38.9%) from the field and 5-16(31.3%) on three point attempts. During this past year despite making all-NBA first-team Bryant only shot 43.0% from the field and shot 30.3% from three point range. Perhaps he no longer is that superstar that we view him as. Perhaps he only is a top 10 player instead of being discussed as the best player. Eventually every player loses the battle to age and I'm wondering if we are witnessing that battle right now in front of our eyes as Bryant doesn't appear to be playing like the player he was say the last Olympics when he was in his prime years.

- The man who was built to score Kevin Durant scored 17 of his 28 points in the third quarter hitting five three pointers to put this game away. Durant finished the game drilling 8-10 from three point range. Durant has been deadly these entire Olympic games especially with the three point shot and his all around game is evolving as well. What makes team USA so deadly is one game James can carry the team, another Anthony did and this game it was Durant who was bombing three pointers all over the place and with deadly accuracy.

During these Olympics Durant is averaging 18.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 3.8 APG showing his all around play. He is shooting 29-56(51.8%) from the field and a ridiculous 20-33(60.6%) from three point range. He has also made 15-17(88.2%) from the free throw line. Durant is making four three pointers a game while making 3/5's of his three point attempts. He is 6'10", quick and athletic while also being the best shooter in the entire world. Nobody in the NBA can guard him let alone international players who have never been known for their defense. With Durant playing in midseason form the United States might have a scare here or there but I don't see this team losing a game.

Now that pool play is over it is on the medal round where if you lose you are done as it is single elimination. No more screwing around for the United States and letting teams hang around. They must come out early and put these countries away so they don't even think about trying to put a scare into them. The United States is clicking on all cylinders with so many weapons and so many different ways to beat you. The NBA has evolved into an international style of play which is why this current USA team is built for this play. The United States who couldn't buy a three pointer back in 2004 are now the most deadly three point shooting team in the Olympics. The U.S. basically plays two guards and three forwards which all three forwards can also play guard. The United States has so many different lineups they can run with it is scary and now that it is single elimination look for coach K to settle more on a rotation which means more minutes for Durant, James, Bryant, Paul and Anthony which can only mean one thing for the world which is trouble. The United States blew out a good team in Argentina a team that they'll perhaps have to face for a third time in three weeks this Friday if both teams win their Wednesday game. For the U.S. they have proven they are battle tested and can beat you in so many different ways.

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