Although the United States won the game 105-78, it was all about the end of Argentina’s “Golden Age” as the game wound to a close.
In what is expected to be the final game for Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino – the last remaining members of the 2004 gold medal-winning squad – a largely pro-Argentina crowd gave them the farewell they deserved.
The run was sparked in part by a U.S. substitution that saw Paul George, Kyle Lowry, DeMarcus Cousins and Jimmy Butler replace all the U.S. starters but Kevin Durant. The bench unit, plus Durant, helped to stymie the offensive attack, bringing a defensive intensity to the floor that the United States has rarely exhibited thus far in Rio.
Durant, the leading U.S. scorer in the London Olympics and a four-time NBA scoring champion, finally looked the part, scoring the first seven U.S. points. He finished with 27 points on 9-for-13 shooting, to go along with seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
The Americans were buoyed by a dynamic performance from George, who enforced his will on both ends of the court. He tallied 17 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Cousins was able to take advantage of his size disparity down low, and he bullied his way to 15 points and two blocks.
Twelve years after winning gold in Athens, Argentina was still paced by the Ginobili/Nocioni/Scola trio as they combined for 41 points. Scola was the leading scorer with 15, Ginobili had 14 and Nocioni had 12.
The scene on the court after the loss was filled with hugs and tears on the Argentine side, while the U.S. breathed a sigh of relief that they weren’t, once again, knocked off by Ginobili and company.