Newspaper article News Sentinel

Men's Basketball: LeBron James, Kevin Durant Key U.S. Surge Past Argentina

Newspaper article News Sentinel

Men's Basketball: LeBron James, Kevin Durant Key U.S. Surge Past Argentina

Article excerpt

LONDON -- Argentina showed it could still compete with Team USA on Monday night.

And then LeBron James and Kevin Durant asserted themselves in the second half.

Team USA pulled away for a 126-97 victory after James scored the Americans' first seven points of the second half and Durant buried five consecutive treys, breaking open what had been a one-point game at intermission.

"LeBron was aggressive, that's what we need from him," said Durant, who scored a game-high 28 points on 9-of-12 shooting. "He was great to start the third, and that opened it up for everyone else. LeBron does a great job being a good teammate, and we all just follow ..."

The Americans finished preliminary round play 5-0 in Group A and will play Australia in a first-round game on Wednesday at a yet-to- be-released time.

Argentina, like the U.S., already had clinched a spot in the quarterfinals of the eight-team single-elimination tournament entering into Monday's action.

Both teams, however, came out playing as though there was plenty on the line, exchanging the lead 13 times in the first half before the Americans took a 60-59 lead into the half.

San Antonio Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili led the Argentines with 16 points, including the pair of free throws with 0.3 seconds left in the half that cut the deficit to one.

The 12,000 packed into the Olympic Park Basketball Arena couldn't help but appreciate the nostalgic value; at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Argentina defeated Team USA en route to winning the gold medal.

USA coach Mike Krzyzewski was not about to take the Argentines lightly.

"The team we played tonight was capable of beating us," Krzyzewski said, pointing out that Argentina played without starting point guard Pablo Prigioni, who was sidelined by kidney stones.

Team USA, meanwhile, was trying to bounce back from Saturday night's close-call victory over Lithuania, 99-94.

"We needed to pick it up," Krzyzewski said. "I wanted to offensively start the second half going to (James) in the post, and he responded right away."

James opened the second half scoring by backing down Andres Nocioni in the lane, spinning to hit his patented turnaround.

After Nocioni answered with a trey, James drained a 3-pointer of his own from the corner, and then went back inside for another two points to give Team USA a 67-62 lead. …

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