There things were, Argentina staying predictably close, giving the United States a fight. Team USA’s defense was lacking and while they were scoring, there was no knockout punch kind of run.
Kevin Durant hit 5-of-6 from 3 in the third, including four in six possessions to lead the U.S. to a 42-17 third quarter that put away a feisty Argentine squad, 126-97. It was part of Durant’s game-high 28 points on 9-of-12 shooting (8-of-10) from 3, but the style in which KD got hot was so very, very awesome.
It was one of those stretches we’ve all seen before. He hit one, then he hit another. And when he hit a third on a quick catch-and-shoot, you knew it was on. KD was heating up and when KD heats up, you can’t stop him. He drilled a fourth 3 and as soon as Carmelo Anthony cleared a rebound, you knew exactly where Deron Williams was going with the ball. And it didn’t matter where KD was going to be when he got it. That thing was going up. And more importantly, it was going in.
The last bomb came from something like 35 feet away and as the other four were, it finished by hitting nothing but the twine. It was one of those times where you just fan yourself with the remote and say things like, “Heavens me, KD.”
With the game completely in hand, Anthony spotted up for an open transition 3 and as the ball was in mid-flight, an Argentine player undercut him and punched Melo in the soft spot. He crumpled to the floor as the ball went through the net and as you might expect, it set Team USA off. Argentina’s play always borders on dirty/shady. They flop, the flail, they complain. But that play happened right in front of the U.S. bench and naturally fired everybody up.
Everyone was kind of wondering if the Americans would retaliate. And they did. In the form of a completely devastating Russell Westbrook posterization.
I have a feeling the U.S. will be signing a treaty in a few years with Argentina because of that dunk. I think Russell Westbrook just declared war.
That wraps up group play for the U.S. as they go 5-0 and will take on Australia first in the knockout round. Durant led Team USA in group play with 18.6 points per game.
A few other notes:
- James Harden didn’t see any regular rotation minutes, instead only playing in garbage time. He scored seven points on 3-of-5 shooting, including a 3-pointer with the U.S. up 26 at the buzzer. A little something extra to add on to the win, I guess.
- KD’s 3-point light show was definitely the best part of the game, but don’t overlook how he cranked up his defense in the third quarter too. It’s probably not a coincidence that it all came pouring out together. Durant’s go-go-gadget arms were on high alert today as he pulled in a couple impressive steals that led to USA runouts, as well as knocking a ball away and then diving out of bounds to save it.
- Not the biggest deal in the world, but KD hit back-to-back 3s early in the third and was clearly heating up. The next two possessions? Post-up isolations by Kobe and Melo.
- Westbrook’s Eurostep is getting plain ridiculous. That step-over he does defies physics.
Next up for Team USA is knockout play against Australia on Wednesday.