Semi-Finals, winner takes on Spain. The "story" is this is the gold medalist fr..."/> Semi-Finals, winner takes on Spain. The "story" is this is the gold medalist fr..."/> Semi-Finals, winner takes on Spain. The "story" is this is the gold medalist fr..."/>

Team USA vs. Argentina Live-blog

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Semi-Finals, winner takes on Spain. The “story” is this is the gold medalist from 2004, the same Argentina that sent the US to the bronze medal game. The truth? This is not that same Argentina. The talent quotient is still there…well somewhat. Manu, Luis Scola, Oberto, Carlos Delfino and Nocioni are still around….but that’s about it. And I’m not even kidding, those 5 guys play 30 minutes a game alongside Pablo Prigioni. No one else plays more than 11. What the Argentinians lack in depth they make up for with complete passion for the game. Watching their celebration after escaping Greece in the Quarters…they looked like a soccer team. No depth against the waves that Team USA will throw at you is not a good thing. It’s hard to doubt Team USA. They’ve withstood the talent and depth of Spain, they’ve handled the physical game of Greece and Australia and they managed to defend various types of offenses. Pick and roll and spread out, Team USA can handle it.

7:19: Andres Nocioni is playing against doctor’s order with tendinitis in his knee. I don’t think this will end well for you Andres, I don’t think this will end well at all.

7:22: Dwight misses but Kobe rebounds with a scoop tip-in. Very nice.

7:24: Melo misses his second jumper of the game but Dwight gets a rebound with authority and gets fouled. He only makes 1 of 2 to make it 3-0 Team USA. Manu responds with a layup.

7:25: Kobe jacks up a terrible forced three that clanks off the back rim. Really? You do know that when we have lulls it’s because Kobe decides to go off with random poor jumpers. Of course Mike Breen pulls the ‘Kobe’s been shooting exceptional as of late’….uhhhh no. Wasn’t he just 1/15 like four days ago? He finally made a couple but exceptional is not the word.

7:26: A LeBron missed three makes the USA 1/6 so far. Ew. Luis Scola takes Melo to the post and bangs him around for a bit before scoring. Melo should exchange his Stop Snitching DVD’s for Better Basketball and work on that Post D.

7:27: Jason Kidd with a jumper??? I shouldn’t be so shocked. He can’t miss in Beijing. Thank you Misty May. Meanwhile, Argentina has 3 turnovers in less than 4 minutes.

7:28: Great ball movement, its swung to Jason Kidd and….he jacks it up with no hesitation. Clank. Perfect streak done. You would do that do me Jason. I’m trying to help you. LeBron with a drive and a left hand scoop. 7-4 Team USA.

7:29: Chris Paul, D-Wade and Chris Bosh are in the game minus witty nickname. How about today we call them the Teen Angels and Carlos Boozer can be Captain Caveman. Kobe with a drive and what can be best described as a fadeaway runner (imagine it damnit) to put Team USA up 9-4. The way they are hounding Delfino right now should make him feel a lot better than he actually is.

7:31: Vintage footage of the 2004 semi-final win over Team USA. Luis Scola absolutely posterized Stephon Marbury in the closing seconds. I mean…damn. If you want to track the complete downfall of Starbury, it has to be because of that. Everything can be traced to that.

7:32: Kobe drains a three off an inbound play. 12-4 Team USA. Manu just picked up his second foul in the first quarter. What’s Spanish for uh-oh?

7:33: Argentina’s playing a weird defense. They aren’t really pressuring because they would get worn out. They definitely aren’t in a zone. They aren’t even standing in the lane. They may not be playing defense at all. My bad.

7:34: D-Wade with a steal on an attempted back cut. Well that answers the question on whether or not we can defend that. Down the other end Kobe jacks up a bad three (no mercy for you today) but Bosh rebounds and gets fouled going back up.

7:35: That sound you hear? It’s Spurs fans not breathing. Manu was down on the side during that whole sequence. He walked off but looked like he hurt his ankle. Nocioni is in for him. Gregg Popovich just broke 5 things in his household, or he choked on his pancakes. Bosh makes both free throws and it’s 14-4.

7:36: Kobe with a steal and a breakaway dunk. 16-4 Team USA, Argentina already has 6 turnovers in about 7 minutes. No es bueno.

7:37: LeBron penetrates and sets up a CP3, corner 3 (say that out loud). Then a steal gets Paul a breakaway layup to put Team USA up 21-4. Didn’t see this coming when I woke up. More turnovers than points for Team VISA.

7:40: LeBron took a foul and a half but still managed to get the shot up. But then he missed both free throws out of the timeout so he gets no props. Prigioni makes a deep three-ball to end the 18-0 USA run. 21-7.

7:40: Argentina……in the 2-3 zone. Enter Deron Williams. Corner three-ball extends the lead to 24-7.

7:41: Nocioni has about one knee right now. It’s hurting me just to watch him. Carmelo with a three from the top of the key to make it 27-9. Argentina officially has the worst zone in the World.

7:42: Evidenced by the fact they are back to man-to-man. Williams puts up a forced three which falls way short but Bosh was right there for him and scored the bucket….and the foul. Nocioni makes a running two pointer at the buzzer to make it 30-11 after 1.

Complete domination so far. I mean Argentina looks defeated, deflated and just run over. Seven turnovers by Argentina, Manu got hurt, Nocioni is hobbled. It’s not looking good.

7:43: Manu Ginobili….has left the building. No he’s just going to the locker room but when is that ever a good sign. Popovich is on the way to Beijing to take care of someone for this. Paul Pierce meanwhile is waiting for his cue to bounce out eagerly.

7:44: On the sideline, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh are laughing presumably about a big man on Argentina being extra physical. What was funny was Carlos Boozer in between them talking and laughing extra hard. I feel like if it was anyone but Boozer they would have been like ‘Man…you ain’t playing’ and walked off. But that’s my imagination thank you very much.

7:46: Wade and Delfino trade offensive fouls. Wade picked up his second and is on the bench. Carmelo D’d Delfino up and drew the charge. He will deny that this ever happened upon returning to Denver. Delfino is scoreless with 2 fouls. Chris Paul with a jumper and Kobe then draws a charge on Nocioni who also has 2 fouls. 32-13 Team USA.

7:48: Collins correctly points out that Oberto is getting demolished in the pick-and-roll. Paul gives him flashbacks to the playoffs and gets a layup. He is going off right now.

7:50: Collins then says LeBron has been that ‘Quarterback’ on defense because of how he sees everything and is very vocal. Why didn’t you just call him a linebacker?

7:50: *cue circus music* Argentina….in the 2-3 zone. Almost immediately Melo drains a three to make it 37-18. Worst. Zone. Ever. El zone es muerta?

7:52: Kobe gets a steal, Melo and Kobe trade the ball and Kobe goes for a dunk…..THE ONE LEGGED MAN SAYS NO! Nocioni blocks!!! LeBron then loses his handle! Argentina drains a three on the other end!! Nocioni flops on Dwight like crazy!!! Turning point??? I think maybe.

7:54: Argentina with some life in the 2-3 zone as they’ve cut the lead down to 14. They are scrapping right now. Nocioni had an open three that went in and out…the crowd would have gone wild. Now I remembered how much I hated Argentina’s fans. Two more free throws and the lead is down to 12. I don’t know if this is just a run or Team USA is getting sloppy.

7:55: Sloppy. Deron Williams with a turnover but Argentina turns it right back over. Too much dribbling against this zone. Passes beat zones. And th
en Doug Collins says it. You jerk. Jason Kidd is back in.

7:57: LeBron with a bad three pointer and Kidd fouls Guiterrez. More free throws for Argentina. He makes both to cut the lead to 37-27. Argentina is on a 16-3 run and a 9-0 run since that Nocioni block on Kobe. Team USA’s lead is only 8 as they let their gas off the pedal since Manu left.

8:00: The corpse of Michael Redd is in to shoot against the zone. The look on his face screams ‘Oh shoot…meaningful minutes???’ For those who can’t translate just imagine a teenager before the test for their license.Melo makes two free throws to make it 39-29.

8:01: Kobe makes a tough three to make it 42-31. “No, no, no….yes! Good shot Kobe”. That was my head. Team USA has shot 17 three pointers in this half. Yikes.

8:04: Chris Paul, meet the classic Argentina flop. Classic Argentina flop, meet Chris Paul.

8:04: Scola gets post position on Bosh and scores with the foul. He’s a beast. 44-34 Team USA.

8:05: Michael Redd held the ball for about 10 seconds and then threw a pass that nearly went out of bounds. Join Laettner, Mitch Richmond, Antonio McDyess and Shareef Abdur-Rahim as the worst Olympians of all time. Tayshaun comes in for Bosh. Sloppy times for Team USA…too much dribbling, too much one-on-one right now. 46-36 with 1:32 left in the half.

8:07: Scola with back-to-back buckets. Kobe jacks up another three….clank. It’s 46-40 Team USA. No joke.

8:07: Delfino misses a three, Kobe on the breakaway but he gets it slapped away going up for the layup. 2 seconds left in the half.

8:09: Carmelo got fouled on a three. Much to the crowd’s delight. Sike. He made all three free throws to send Team USA into the half up 9.

Team USA is beating themselves. Plain and simple. Even though they are up by 9, they are beating themselves. Remember that Nocioni play on the fast break that I joked might be the turning point. 22-9 since Nocioni stuffed Kobe’s dunk attempt. All it takes is the smallest plays. Just think had Nocioni gotten dunked on or not tried, Team USA would have had the crowd going and been up 21. Now they are in a fight they should not be in. Team USA has gotten very, very, very stagnant. They stopped attacking the zone. They did one of two things. Either over-dribbled trying to attack the zone or just turned into zombies and passed the ball around the perimeter before throwing up a three. 20 of Team USA’s 33 shots have been three-pointers. Combine that with the fact that Team USA was in the penalty so Argentina shot a gang of free throws (12/12) and stopped turning the ball over (12 in the game but only about 1 in the last 5 or 6 minutes) and you can clearly see why Argentina is only down 8. Argentina has got 13 points from Guiterrez and Quinteros who came into this game combined averaging 4 a game. Argentina is not doing anything special, they picked up activity in the zone but Team USA let them off of the hook defensively. Argentina’s zone is specifically designed so their players can rest not get stops. But thanks to Team USA they are getting stops, getting offense from their bench and surviving. Should Team USA win? Absolutely. They have done an excellent job of making the right adjustments in the 2nd half. It just should not be this close. If I’m Spain I can’t help but see my confidence rise a bit.

8:25: Doug Collins drops the first five minutes line. Dwight with an immediate put-back. The defensive life is back and get a jump-ball which leads to a turnover.

8:27: They show Nocioni doing a dunk in warm-ups. The One Legged Man is a fraud. Dwight with a mini jump hook off the glass to make it 53-40.

8:28: LeBron fouls Nocioni. Melo tries to channel Rasheed by yelling ‘THE BALL DON’T LIE GET OUT’. It doesn’t. LeBron is lightweight having his worst game. 2 turnovers, 2 points, 3 fouls. Dwyane Wade meanwhile…buried under the bench. I don’t even remember him being in.

8:29: Of course LeBron scores immediately. Scola responds with a jumper. How bout them Rockets?

8:30: LeBron nails a wide open three from the top of the key. 58-44 and it’s timeout time. Way to show up LeBron, didn’t want to have to call you out but you made me.

8:32: Melo has lost his mind. Dwight Howard grabbed the rebound, got fouled hard and of course Melo tries to get in Oberto’s face. Come on man. Everyone else walked off except Melo. The crowd of course booed Melo. He should really look into being a villain on some Chinese TV show.

8:34: Great attacking. LeBron penetrated skipped it to Kidd who had an open shot but instead passed it in to Howard who dunked. That’s how you do it.

8:37: Dwyane Wade sighting. Very weird sequence. Melo got fouled but then Nocioni got a technical. So now he has 4 fouls as does Oberto. Funny how Nocioni had that big great play in the first half and then did that. 67-49

8:40: By the way Roman Gonzalez is in for Argentina. First, his stache is boss. Straight out of the 70’s. He also looks like he should be in Beer Fest and not at the Olympics for anything.

8:40: Scola with a pretty reverse layup but Wade gets a putback. Well technically Gonzalez goal-tended but still. 70-53 Team USA.

8:41: Scola is killing with another jumper. He has 20. But D-Wade penetrates the zone and kicks it to Deron Williams who drains a three to make it 73-55. Argentina only has 2 turnovers this half.

8:43: Doug Collins goes on a mini-rant about how Team USA’s had a problem because the turnovers they’ve forced haven’t been steals, instead dead balls and what not. Box score tells me that of the 13 turnovers, 6 of them have been steals. Hmm. Apparently Doug didn’t watch the first quarter.

8:44: Paul with a disgusting spin move in the open court and he gets fouled. CP3 in the open court is bad for people’s health. He makes 1 of 2 and they are up 74-55. It’s funny, I feel like Team USA is playing close to terrible (to high standards) and then I look up and they are up 21.

8:49: Delfino with a three-ball to cut the lead to 78-64. Team USA is playing well enough to win this game comfortably but not great by any means. They keep relaxing and leaving the door open.

8:51: Up 14 at the end of three, Team USA has at least stopped killing themselves with stagnant offense and below average shot selection. They’ve still left a lot to be desired.

8:52: Sager drops the Jason Kidd/Misty May comparison. Awesome to see Jason Kidd in the rain though. Any excuse to see Misty May dancing is fine by me.

8:54: LeBron with back-to-back three’s for Team USA. Guiterrez answers with a three of his own to cut the lead down to 15. LeBron with a left hand scoop to push it to 17 and Argentina calls timeout. And they argue with the refs.

8:56: Fun fact….I muted Doug Collins three times during that timeout.

8:58: I just noticed Guiterrez has a tattoo of the Jordan Jumpman on his arm. It does not look good.

8:59: USA has shot 30 threes compared to 27 two pointers. Yucky. I can’t even really explain it. It’s like they are on cruise control or something.

9:06: Delfino drove hard to the basket, had a wide open layup and completely botched it. Then he laid on the floor and wanted a foul call. And this is why David Stern is not too sad that you are going overseas my friend.

9:07: Oberto fouls out. 5 fouls, 4 turnovers, 2 points and 0 rebounds.

9:09: You know…maybe Coach K should have let Boozer try and guard Scola. So far Scola hasn’t scored, in fact he threw a ball over Argentina’s bench.

101-81 Team USA. An odd, weird, disjointed game. The first quarter was complete domination. Team USA ran over Argentina with their most dominant first quarter of the Olympics. I mean the Argentines looked like they wanted to pack their VISA cards and go home. Then Nocioni blocked Kobe on the fast break and they started to believe again. Team USA took the foot off the pedal and decided it would be
fun to see how far they could make it in neutral. It started with over-dribbling against the zone. It ended with settling for three pointers. The best part? It didn’t matter. Despite the fact that Team USA did their best job in these Olympics of trying to beat themselves, they prevailed comfortably. Even though Team USA could never quite find their rhythm and blow the game open…they still won by 20. I could go on and on about how Team USA struggled but at the end of the day they won by 20 and they made it to the gold medal game. It felt like they squeaked by, but they won by 20. I know people are going to give Argentina credit for competing and hanging tough. They’ll emphasize the injuries to Manu and Nocioni. Some will even ask ‘What if?’ I won’t. They were killing them with both of those guys in the lineup. The only reason it was close was because Team USA allowed it to be.