Team USA Men’s Basketball Eliminates Argentina, Advances to Semifinals at Rio Olympics

USA's centre DeMarcus Cousins (C) and USA's guard Kyle Lowry (L) celebrate a point during a Men's quarterfinal basketball match between USA and Argentina at the Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro on August 17, 2016 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (PHOTO CREDIT: Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images)
USA’s centre DeMarcus Cousins (C) and USA’s guard Kyle Lowry (L) celebrate a point during a Men’s quarterfinal basketball match between USA and Argentina at the Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro on August 17, 2016 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (PHOTO CREDIT: Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images)

After being down 19-9 early in the first quarter of their quarterfinals matchup against Argentina, Team USA used a 27-2 run to take control of the game and eventually dominate on its way to a 105-78 victory. Kevin Durant’s 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting and Paul George’s defense being injected to the game changed the complexion of this game after the initial scare.

Argentina was fueled by Facundo Campazzo’s early scoring burst and they took advantage of USA missing some open looks to start the game. But eventually, the defense fixed itself and the offense was simply too good for Argentina to be able to keep up with USA Basketball. George also had 17 points off the bench and DeMarcus Cousins chipped in 15 as well.

Four different scorers hit double digits for Argentina, led by Luis Scola’s 15. Manu Ginobili, in maybe his final game for Argentina, finished with 14 points and seven assists.

USA moves on to play Spain on Friday, and the winner of that game will play for the gold medal on Sunday.

Here are five things to know from USA’s win over Argentina:

1. The slow start didn’t ultimately hurt Team USA
That 19-9 start by Argentina was certainly worrisome and it’s indicative of the problems that have been there for Team USA despite them now moving its record to 6-0 with group play and the quarterfinals. Some will look at the scoring in that situation and wonder where the firepower is, but it was the defense that continued to be a problem.

Facundo Campazzo is a fine international point guard, but he looked like Isiah Thomas (the Hall of Famer, not the Celtic) cutting through the lane and finding whatever teardrops and layups he needed. Ball movement seemed to confuse the starting unit of Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and DeAndre Jordan. They either gave too much space or played too tight on the drive without help. Running guards around hand-off screens at the top left the U.S. in a mess in terms of defensive organization and that’s why Argentina had so much success early on.

It eventually corrected itself with open shots falling for Team USA and the defensive effort finding better combinations, communication and execution. Most of this was due to the talent finally finding the right touch and angles, and the depth of Team USA being too much for the lack of depth with an older Argentina roster. That clear depth advantage won’t be there with the matchup against Spain on Friday, so these slow starts have to find a way to correct themselves.

Mike Krzyzewski may want to think about starting Paul George to get the defense going early, unless he’s worried another slow start, this time with George in the lineup, will leave them without that game-changer like PG has been off the bench.

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SOURCE: CBS Sports