Coming off the high from Alex Morgan‘s “Miracle On Grass,” we were more than hyped for the inevitably memorable Team USA/Argentina matchup. Lithuania pushed the Yanks, but no one ever truly believed they’d win, and even if by some lucky bounce that they actually did, it would’ve been chalked up as merely a bad night rather than a sign of things to come. But Argentina? They’re legit. They showed it for a while against Team USA too, until LeBron James and Kevin Durant (28 points) decided to take their games to a level no one else on the world can reach. With just a one-point lead at the break, Coach K unleashed the bloodhounds, and the two superstars turned defense into offense. Soon, Kevin Durant was smoking the nets from five or six feet beyond the arc, the crowd was mercilessly belting Argentina with “USA!” chants and Scola, Ginobili and co. were so shook from the 42-17 third quarter U.S. spurt, they resorted to cheap shots. It felt like we were watching Usain Bolt disrespecting the competition on repeat. Team USA was so far beyond anyone else in the world during that run that we got chills just watching, and even in the fourth quarter, the carnage didn’t stop on the way to the Yanks 126-90 win … Besides Kevin Durant turning the second half into his own personal shootaround, what this game will be remembered for was Facundo Campazzao‘s nut job on Carmelo Anthony at the end of the third. As ‘Melo went up for a triple, the Argentinian point guard gave him a shot to his junk, enraging Krzyzewski enough to get him to confront Scola at midcourt. The NBA guys – especially Carmelo – looked like they were ready to grab Evander Holyfield out of the stands and have him start throwing bows. The Argentinians? They just wanted to grab their gear and head home … Team USA jumped out 14-8 behind a quick nine-point spurt from Chris Paul (wing triple), LeBron (three-point play) and Kobe (left wing three). What we liked early: the physicality. It took about three minutes before everyone watching was like “Yeah, they actually give a s$#& tonight.” LeBron and Andres Nocioni nearly got into it during a dead ball, Tyson Chandler smacked Luis Scola across the face and Kevin Durant body checked someone on the break. What we didn’t like: the team’s weird obsession with the triple. Seriously, if Mike D’Antoni ever somehow became the head coach of this team, they might go an entire 40 minutes without shooting a two-pointer (15 of their 23 first quarter shots were triples. By halftime, they had taken 22. Everyone must’ve been watching old Tim Thomas tapes during the pregame.). In the first quarter, Scola outworked the entire USA frontline, and if it wasn’t for a Durant dagger triple at the buzzer, it would’ve been Argentina walking into the break with the lead. In one of the day’s most predictable subplots, Manu Ginobili came out and dropped 16 in the first half (on five shots somehow) while also baiting the refs into at least three terrible calls by falling and flopping around the court … If it wasn’t for Chris Paul in the first half (14 points before the break, 17 total), things might’ve gotten really interesting. By the end of the second quarter, after watching too many extra passes from LeBron and too many stupid shots from Kobe, he started picking it up, scoring on the break, pulling up from three, sending a few defenders into 360s off his ridiculous in-and-out. He also pulled out the first ever successful Olympic Shammgod. He struggled early in this tournament, but as the games have gone on, he’s quietly looking like straight cash from the perimeter. He got in everyone’s face at the half too, asking for more energy, and they responded. LeBron (18 points) dropped the second half’s first seven points, and then snatched away Nocioni’s pride on another offensive rebound putback. After James laced Durant with a perfect bounce pass for a dunk, it was 77-66 USA with six minutes left in the third. After that, it got REALLY ugly … Keep reading to hear about the play of the game that Andre Iguodala pulled out …
Early in the second quarter, Andre Iguodala had the play of the game. He ripped an Argentinian player near the baseline, then threw a pass between a defender’s legs up to Russell Westbrook, who proceeded to miss a layup only to be bailed out by Iggy. He came flying from being to flush home the finish. Iguodala also missed a dunk a few minutes later that really should’ve counted, but it went in, hit him in the shoulder and then popped out … Quick Jazz fans, how do you feel after reading this: it was first reported the Jazz were going to offer Paul Millsap a $25 million extension, and he was going to sign it and stay in Utah. Now, all indictions point towards one of the NBA’s most underrated players passing on the money and instead hitting the free agent market, where his price range will probably force him to leave the Jazz. Utah fans should be pissed right? Well, in a way, this might help the team long-term. We said recently we didn’t think the mega-lineup of Millsap-Jefferson-Favors could work. In the modern game, there’s too much speed and athleticism. Now, with Millsap potentially having one foot out the door, it opens up the possibility of a trade beforehand. But more than anything else, this gives Derrick Favors the time he needs to develop … Other offseason news: Andray Blatche could be on his way to either San Antonio or Miami … Kenyon Martin is considering both the Nets and the Lakers … And Danny Granger says Indiana is the second-best team in the East. He might want to talk to J.R. Smith about that one … And over the weekend, the Dime crew was out in Philly taking in the city of Brotherly Love with people like Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Jadakiss and Dr. J. Check out what happened … We’re out like Argentina’s manhood.
Follow Dime Magazine on Twitter
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook