In the regular season play of the Olympics, Kobe Bryant had quiet performances, but once Team USA reached the quarterfinals, Bryant decided it was time to silence the critics.
Team USA held a 56-42 lead at halftime, but Austrailia wouldn’t back down in the third quarter and came out on a 9-0 run. Team USA would respond and regain their 12 point lead entering the fourth quarter with an 84-70 lead.
With six minutes to go in the fourth quarter and his team up 93-78, Bryant caught fire, making four straight three-pointers in the span of 64 seconds to push the lead to 105-80. Team USA fed off of the momentum and defeated Austrailia 119-86.
“He was a little sleepy out there, so I guess I woke the ‘Mamba’ up, and he responded,” Carmelo Anthony said. “I was talking to him at halftime and in the third quarter. I guess I pushed the button, and he woke up.”
The story that the media will pay attention to is Bryant’s fourth quarter performance, his six consecutive three-pointers made including two in the third quarter and the fact that he led Team USA with 20 points, but Lebron James had the better game. James had the first triple-double in Olympic history with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists with three of his assists coming on Bryant’s three-pointers.
Team USA once again had six players in double figures as the other players were Deron Williams with 18, Anthony with 17, Kevin Durant with 14 and Kevin Love, who had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Patrick Mills led Austrailia with 26 points while Joe Ingles had19, David Anderson had 11 and Brad Newly had 10.
The Americans shot 45.3-percent on field goals, making 19 of 46 three-pointers and won rebounds 45-39, assists 23-19, steals 13-4 and turnovers 10-18. Austrailia shot 45.1-percent on field goals, making 9 of 22 three-pointers.
Team USA will move onto the semifinals to face Argentina for the third time in 17 days with the winner advancing to the gold-medal game against the winner of Russia-Spain. Team USA won the previous two games against Argentina, 126-97 two days ago and 86-80 on July 22 in Barcelona and will try to win the third matchup on Friday August 10 at 5:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
“If you play five minutes badly, they can kill you, they’ll score 20 points,” Argentina coach Julio Lamas said. “We need to play the perfect game, for 40 minutes.”