Kevin Durant's 27 Points Lead USA to 86-80 Win Over Argentina
Twenty years after the 1992 USA Basketball Dream Team made its indelible impact on international basketball at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, USA Basketball’s 2012 Men’s National Team (4-0), wearing 1992 USA Basketball throwback jerseys, returned to the hardwood in Barcelona and battled to a hard fought 86-80 win over Argentina. Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) drained 7-of-11 3-pointers to finish with a game high 27 points in the win.
“We started off pretty well, got a couple of shots. Argentina did a great job of slowing the game down, making the right passes and penetrating and executing. So, it was a good game for us. We learned a lot tonight. We just have to keep getting better for the Olympics and our guys did a good job of playing through everything, playing hard, playing together,” said Durant, the Tiffany & Co. Player of the Game.
The Americas will conduct a practice Monday in Barcelona, then finish off their National Team tour with an exhibition game against host Spain on Tuesday (4:30 p.m. EDT) at Palau Sant Jordi.
“It was a great game for us because we played against champions. The Argentine team played like champions for over a decade and to play in a game like, I thought it was really our first international. I thought our guys did a great job at the start of each half,” said Mike Krzyzewski, USA and Duke University head coach.
“I thought Kevin was sensational tonight against man and zone. He looked like he did in Istanbul tonight.” added Krzyzewski about Durant, who earned MVP honors in leading the USA to gold at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
In a preview of the upcoming Aug. 6 USA-Argentina Olympics preliminary round game, the 2012 USA Basketball Men’s National Team dominated Argentina early then turned back each Argentina comeback attempt.
Durant gave an indication of things to come when he dropped back-to-back 3-pointers on the USA first two possessions and after Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) scored with 8:46 still to play in the quarter the Americans were off to a flying 8-0 start.
Argentina’s Luis Scola made one of two free throws to get Argentina on the board, but the U.S. threatened to make a rout of the game after Bryant and Durant each added 3-pointers and Bryant converted off a fast break to push the USA advantage to 16-1.
A Bryant 3-pointer, the USA’s fifth of the game’s first 3:15, made the score 19-3. Argentina reeled off six consecutive points to cut the deficit to 19-9 with 3:30 remaining in the opening quarter, and with 46 seconds to play in the period the USA led 25-14.
Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks) got in the 3-point parade with a three with 38 seconds left before the horn, and when Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets) hit nothing but net from beyond the 3-point arc as the first quarter buzzer sounded, the Americans had control 31-16.
The U.S. continued to have its way and following four points from Bryant, two free throws and a hoop off a drive, the USA lead was up to 20, 39-19, with 6:56 remaining before half.
Argentina climbed back into the game with a mini 10-0 run. The run included a six point series when USA guard Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers) was whistled for a foul, and called for an intention foul on the continuation. Argentina’s Fauundo Campazzo made 3-of-4 free throws, then after being awarded possession of the ball as well, Carlos Delfino nailed a three to cut the USA lead to 39-29.
LeBron James (Miami Heat) stopped the run, but Argentina kept chipping away and following a 3-pointer from Leo Gutierrez, the American advantage was down to five, 45-40. Westbrook cushioned the U.S. lead to seven, 47-40, when he scored off an Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers) block and fast break feed with just two seconds to go in the first half.
A Durant jumper, a Bryant 3-pointer, and a James basket got the USA off to a good third quarter start and upped the lead to 54-40.
Ahead 61-49, the USA ripped off eight straight points including another three from Durant, and the lead was back to 20 points, 69-49, with 3:01 left in the third.
Argentina again rallied and after outscoring the U.S. 12-3 to close out the third quarter, the USA’s lead stood at 72-61 heading into the final period.
Owning a 78-63 led early in the fourth, Argentina got eight points from NBA All-Star Manu Ginobili in a 11-0 run which saw Argentina close to within four points, 78-74, with 2:50 left in the game.
Durant made his seventh 3-pointer when the USA needed it most, and when Paul followed up with his own 3-pointer with 2:07 to go, the USA regained momentum and control 84-76 and rolled on in for the 86-80 win.
In addition to Durant’s 27 points, Bryant added 18 points, James recorded 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Westbrook tossed in 13 points. Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks) led the U.S. effort on the glass with eight boards.
Ginobili finished with 23 points for Argentina, while Delfino added 15 points Scola finished with 14 points.
Along with USA assistant coaches, Syracuse University and Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim and former NBA head coaches Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan, Krzyzewski has led the USA.