ESPN: A new and improved U.S. team was too good for Argentina’s B team.
Kobe Bryant scored 27 points — 15 in the first quarter — and the United States cruised into the semifinals of the FIBA Americas tournament as the No. 1 seed by beating Argentina 91-76 Thursday night.
The Americans took control early and were never threatened in the matchup with the defending Olympic gold medalists, who also came in undefeated despite playing this qualifying tournament without the core of their team.
Carmelo Anthony added 18 points and LeBron James had 15 for the Americans, who will face Puerto Rico in one of Saturday’s semifinal games. A victory there gives them a berth in the 2008 Olympics.
That seems likely for a U.S. team (8-0) that had overwhelmed its opponents before playing their toughest foe in the finale of round-robin play.
The Americans averaged 117.6 points while beating their first seven opponents by 42.7 per game, not too far from the 121.2 points and 51.5 victory margin averaged by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and the rest of the Dream Team in the Olympics 15 years ago.