Team USA Men's Olympic basketball dismantled the Argentine Nationals in a not-so-friendly exhibition opener with a score of 111-74 Friday night. Team USA set an early dominant tone by outscoring their 2004 Athens Olympic conquerors 32-14 in the first quarter.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 23 points. In so doing, the two-time Olympian showcased no ill effects from a contentiously received recent free-agency decision. On July 4, Durant infamously agreed to spurn Oklahoma City in favor of creating a mega-power in All-Star laden Golden State. While this accord hasn't fared well in many NBA circles, Durant's on-court potency indicates he's all business once the ball's in play.
The new Warriors forward was buttressed throughout the landslide victory by teammates Carmelo Anthony (17 points, seven rebounds), DeMarcus Cousins (14 points, 15 rebounds in 16 minutes of play), and Paul George (18 points as reserve). While 32-year-old Carmelo Anthony is set to become the only U.S. Olympian to compete in four Olympiads, Paul George is triumphantly returning from a gruesome injury suffered in 2014.
While a rejuvenated George is certainly the feel-good storyline of Team USA's camp, departing U.S. Olympic Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski praised his third Olympic team's collective performance.
"Overall I thought it was good for our team. We got to play everybody double-figure minutes, a lot of different combinations. A huge thing for us during these five exhibition games is to try to be in game shape by the time we get to Rio."
While the 2004 Olympic Gold-Medal winning Argentines fought valiantly during the penultimate period of play, Team USA's 31-17 fourth-quarter run put the game conclusively out of reach.
The proud Argentinian National Team was led by accomplished Olympic and NBA veterans Andres Nocioni (15 points, seven rebounds), Manu Ginobili (11 points), Luis Scola (10 points), and the returning Carlos Delfino (3 points).
Delfino, once a touted NBA-level swingman, hasn't played an NBA contest in three seasons due to a broken foot. The 32-year-old Argentinian last suited up state-side with the 12'-13' Houston Rockets. That year, Delfino averaged 10.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, and 1.0 spg in 25.3 minutes of action.
Conversely, Delfino's compatriot Manu Ginobili, 37, just re-upped with the Spurs to the tune of a one-year $14 million contract. Meanwhile, former Bulls standout Andres Nocioni has played in Europe over the past several seasons. And rugged 36-year-old Luis Scola's NBA career is slowly finding its conclusion.
While Argentina's core is aging, many prognosticators feel as though the team is still a legitimate medal contender.
As seen Friday night, however, the competitive chasm between medal-contending Argentina and gold-medal favorite United States is stark indeed.
Team USA's top rebounder DeMarcus Cousins had the following statements regarding his squad's overall performance for ESPN.
"We have some pretty good rebounding on this team, a versatile team as well, we got guards that can rebound at a high rate as well, so if we commit to it on a nightly basis I think we can dominate a lot of teams on the boards."
Team USA Basketball's official Olympic opener will take place August 6 against Australia.
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]