Up by just one point on Argentina at halftime of their final Olympic basketball preliminary-round game, Team USA needed someone to step up and take control of the game. Luckily, two of the best players in the world, Lebron James and Kevin Durant led the charge.
James dominated early in the third quarter and Durant started raining three-pointers, keying a 42-17 third quarter that saw Team USA take a 102-76 lead.
James scored seven of Team USA's first nine points to set the tone, and once the lead started to grow, Durant poured it on. He scored 17 third-quarter points, including a stretch of five three-pointers in a row, as the game became a blowout. Argentina never picked up Durant in transition, allowing him to walk into wide-open looks.
The defense was also ratcheted up for the U.S. in the quarter and Argentina had just 17 points after scoring at least 27 in the first two frames. In the fourth quarter, the U.S. emptied their bench, as did Argentina.
''You kind of want to send a message a little bit.,'' said Kobe Bryant after the game ''This was the second game in a row that this team has played us close. We didn't want to give them confidence.''
The Americans (5-0) will play Australia (3-2) in a quarterfinal game Wednesday.
USA and Argentina may very well see each other again soon. They would meet in the semifinals for the third straight Olympics if both win Wednesday.