Depth key for U.S. in 109-83 win over Argentina and more thoughts
Team USA flexed its depth in its 109-83 victory over Argentina in the semifinals
Several players stepped up, including Kevin Love, who will be essential in final
Spain also advanced to final, but Russia may have given U.S. blueprint for victory
LONDON -- Three thoughts on the U.S.' 109-83 semifinals win over Argentina.
1. Team USA flexed its depth. It won't go down as the United States' most dominant performance of the 2012 Olympics, but against a good opponent in a pressure situation, the U.S. played one of its most complete games of the tournament. Spreading the scoring out -- five players finished in double figures and nine of the 12 had at least six points -- the U.S. came out strong and, save for a few short lulls, never let up. The U.S. shot 53 percent from the floor, 43 percent from three-point range and outrebounded Argentina 46-29. Give Argentina credit: They battled, surprising the U.S. with a box-and-one defense. But like Monday night, they could not overcome a U.S. scoring spree. After Kobe Bryant controlled the first quarter (nine points), LeBron James the second (nine) and Kevin Durant the third (12), Carmelo Anthony closed the show with 12 points in the fourth to put the scrappy Argentineans away.
2. Solid showing for Love. With Tyson Chandler (again) battling foul trouble, Love chipped in with a strong (and much-needed) performance, totaling nine points, nine rebounds and one block in 16 minutes. It's no secret that Team USA has had issues when Chandler leaves the floor, and with Spain's burly front line on deck (more on that below), a gritty effort from Love is just what the U.S. wanted to see going into Sunday.
3. Speaking of Spain ... It wasn't pretty but Spain squeaked by Russia 67-59 in the other semifinal. Both teams looked out of sync in the first quarter, with Russia eking out a 12-9 lead. Spain looked to be in trouble at the half, trailing 31-20, but a shooting barrage from Jose Calderon in the second half (12 of his 14 points) and some rugged play from Pau Gasol (16 points, 12 rebounds) and Marc Gasol (11 points, four rebounds, two blocks) overwhelmed Russia, powering Spain back to the gold medal game against the U.S. for the second straight Olympics.
Look for Spain to pack the paint, dig to get back on defense and try to out-execute the U.S. in the halfcourt on Sunday. But the Gasol brothers are the great equalizer, a pair of All-Star centers with a proven ability to score and rebound in the paint. Spain will try to work the offense through the Gasol's, but remember this: In the first half Russia effectively denied Spain's big men the ball by mixing up the defenses, using its athleticism and giving the entry passing guards different looks. Expect the U.S. to try a lot of the same things.