Australia deserves a lot of respect for their performance against the U.S. on Wednesday: they showed great character, discipline and passion.
The Boomers cut the U.S. lead to three in the third quarter, but then, after being pressed during halftime by teammates Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant to live up to his legend, Kobe Bryant erupted. He hit two threes in 18 seconds and pushed the lead to 70-58. Despite a game effort, that was it for the Aussies.
After Bryant's eruption started, the defense kicked up as well. Kevin Durant made a spectacular steal, and then Chris Paul had one of his own.
Things just snowballed, and the U.S. prevailed, 119-86. Needless to say, LeBron James was a huge factor, putting up a triple double, as was Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant, who scored 18, 17 and 14 respectively.
With the exception of the Lithuanians, who stayed close to the end, the U.S. has at some point broken every opponent's will, including, a couple of days ago, Argentina.
They'll see them again on Friday, and there's bad blood between the two squads, mostly from the last game but going back for longer than that. You can count on a fired-up Anthony, we think, who was slugged in the nether regions by Facundo Campazzo last time out.
The U.S. got frankly mad at the Argentines, who at times seemed determined to make the U.S. angry.
Manu Ginobli reckons his team has a 5% chance at best and says they'll play for that.
He's blowing smoke of course: the Argentines are a tough, determined team coming off a humiliating loss and they'll be ready. The winner will go on to face the winner of Russia vs. Spain. The Russians are the surprise of the tournament, so everything left is going to be very, very tough work.