For the first five minutes or so, it looked to be a repeat of the last three games for Team USA, but the Americans were quickly able to overcome another sluggish start to blow out Argentina 105-78 and advance to the semifinal round in Rio.
Kevin Durant led the way with 27 points, while Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins gave their team a much-needed boost off the bench, scoring 17 and 15 points, respectively. Some of the same laissez-faire efforts continued to plague the Americans early on, including Kyrie Irving jogging back on defense and causing all sorts of breakdowns that allowed Argentina to get easy buckets and explode to a 10-point first quarter lead.
Facundo Campazzo was spectacular as he led Argentina’s initial onslaught, getting into the lane at will and knocking down several teardrop floaters. But that early success would ultimately be short-lived.
Collectively, the U.S. started the game ice-cold, shooting just 1-of-8 from three. Carmelo Anthony was at the helm of that sputtering start, going 0-of-4 in the first quarter, then blowing an alley-oop from Klay Thompson. Durant was the only one keeping the U.S. alive in the opening period and was phenomenal all night long, scoring the first seven points for the U.S. and scoring or assisting on 19 of their 25 first-quarter points overall.
But with the Americans trailing 19-9 midway through the first, Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins soon came off the bench and gave the U.S. a lift, especially on the defensive end and inside the paint. They went on a 16-2 run from there and took a 25-21 lead into the second quarter. They pushed that to a 27-2 run and never looked back from there, stringing together arguably their best stretch of basketball of the entire tournament so far.
Luis Scola was the high scorer for Argentina with 15 points, while Manu Ginobili added 14 points in what would be his final game of international basketball as he had previously announced he would retire from the national team at the conclusion of the 2016 games. Team USA will move on to play longtime rival Spain in the semifinal round on Friday at 6 p.m. ET.