LONDON — Lithuanian coach Kestutis Kemzura searched for the words to describe it late Saturday night, after watching his team flirt with the notion of upsetting the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team in Olympic play for as long as humanly possible.
“You have to pick your poison,” he said of playing the U.S., “and then decide what you want to die from.”
That’s one extremely grim way of looking at it. A view that Argentina can share after being blown off the court by the U.S. in the third quarter of what turned into a 126-97 rout Monday night at the Olympic Basketball Arena.
Between LeBron James bullying his way around the floor for seven quick points in the first three minutes of the third quarter and Kevin Durant‘s 17-point barrage that followed, the point was made. The U.S. heads into Wednesday’s quarterfinal against Australia having made it clear that they’ll only go along with the opposition’s plan for so long.
Packing the paint and hoping they take and miss enough 3-point shots so you can stay close was easier to do when Durant — the 6-foot-10 reigning three-time NBA scoring champion shooting from two feet closer than the NBA 3-point line — wasn’t around to mess up those plans.
“Almost everybody has tried to play them the same way, there aren’t a lot of secrets, that’s the same way everybody has tried to play them the last decade,” said Argentina and San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili. “But when this happens and they make 20 [3-pointers], then you shake their hands, say ‘good game’ and go back and get ready for the next game. It’s not that complicated.”