Certain disreputable commentators apparently got the idea that Team USA’s shaky performance against Lithuania last week might have exposed some larger vulnerabilities in the American squad. So much for that idea. America crushed Argentina 126-97 today.
In this evening’s contest against Group A rival Argentina, Team USA put on its most impressive performance of the London Olympics. (The 83-point trouncing of Nigeria is nowhere close to this one, by the way, since Argentina is actually a legitimate medal contender.)
The Americans used their superior athleticism to completely stifle Argentina’s ability to run any of their set plays. In what’s become the calling card of American basketball, Coach K’s defensive scheme—which basically consists of rotating shifts of ultra-athletic guards pressuring ball handlers into mistakes—kept Argentina from getting any of the shots they wanted.
On the other hand, Team USA got every shot they could have ever dreamed of—and seemingly made all of them.
Led by Kevin Durant, who shot 9-for-12 from the field (including 8-of-10 from beyond the arc), Team USA’s shooters had an absolute field day against a demoralized Argentinian squad.
Chris Paul chipped in five three-pointers of his own, and the team shot 51 percent from three overall.
Things got a little chippy in the fourth quarter after Team USA had the game well in hand. Argentina, frustrated by letting the game slip away after being down by only one point at halftime, took a few shots at their American opponents. The low point of the classless Argentinian display came when Facundo Campazzo punched Carmelo Anthony below the belt on a three-point attempt right in front of the USA bench. Both teams rose from their benches and exchanged words, but aside from a couple of technical fouls, an international conflict was avoided.
The takeaway from this game is largely unchanged from the narrative that has described Team USA all along. They play pit-viper on-ball defense, create turnovers by disorganizing opposing offenses and get lots of open shots. Look for that story to stay the same, and maybe expect a little more testy play, if the two teams meet again in a likely matchup on August 8.