Kobe leads US NBA stars into Olympic semis
LONDON, United Kingdom - Kobe Bryant scored 20 points to lead the United States over a stubborn Australia squad 119-86 on Wednesday, August 8 and advance the Americans into a Friday semi-final against Argentina.
Bryant sank three 3-pointers in a row within 31 seconds in the fourth quarter to seal the Boomers' fate, improving the NBA Dream Team to 14-0 over Australia in global tournaments.
LeBron James added 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists while Deron Williams had 18 points and Carmelo Anthony scored 17.
Reigning European champion Spain, which lost to the US NBA squad in the 2008 Beijing final, will face Russia in the other semi-final.
Argentina defeated a set of US NBA stars in the 2004 Olympic semi-finals, ending Dream Team gold domination that began in 1992, but a revamped US squad avenged that loss with a triumph in the 2008 Beijing Olympic semi-finals.
Williams and Anthony each scored five points in a 10-2 run late in the second quarter that lifted the US stars to a 56-42 half-time lead.
But Joe Ingles hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Patrick Mills had five points in an 11-0 Australian run to open the second half and lift the Boomers within 56-53, forcing the Americans to use a timeout and regroup.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Bryant put the US multi-millionaires ahead 70-58 with 4:39 to play in the third quarter and they kept that margin until a fast break basket by Anthony lifted the lead to 84-70 entering the fourth quarter.
Mills sank a 3-pointer to pull Australia within 92-78 with 6:40 to play but Bryant answered 50 seconds later and then sank his three 3-pointers in a row in a span a 31 seconds, a staggering display that sealed the Aussies' fate.
After the last of them, Bryant could only turn and give a shrug as if even he wasn't certain how he got so hot.
Mills led Australia with 26 points.
For a wrap of the men's basketball quarterfinals, click here. - Agence France-Presse