Durant Leads Team USA to Argentina Victory
He showed it by knocking immediately knocking down two three-pointers once the game began and sparked by Durant's six points, Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski's squad jumped out to a double digit lead. Team USA needed every bit of the 19-3 run it used to start off its exhibition game against Argentina, including 12 of Kevin Durant’s 27 points in the first quarter in order to stave off the Argentinians as the Americans eventually won 86-80.
At first Durant’s scoring came mostly from jump shots, knocking down four three pointers in the first quarter. He seemed to find a comfortable spot getting himself open along the wing and being ready for catch and shoot opportunities. As the game went along, Durant got out in transition and was the beneficiary of a couple passes from LeBron James for dunks.
However, it was the three-pointer that again was Durant’s biggest weapon late in the game. With USA only leading by four points with 2:30 remaining, Durant knocked down a deep three ball with a man and his face and contact just as the shot was being released to give USA an 81-75 lead.
“I thought Kevin was sensational tonight against man and zone,” Krzyzewski said, before referencing Durant’s performance in the 2010 World Championships where he helped lead the USA to the gold medal. “He looked like he did in Istanbul.”
James Harden did not see action in this contest, but his Thunder teammates Durant and Russell Westbrook made an impact in a variety of different ways, particularly on the defensive end. Both players made incredible blocked shots in transition situations. Durant single-handedly broke up a two-on-one fast break, and Westbrook hustled to block a sure layup from behind. Whether it was making steals, the right pass or big buckets like Westbrook’s run-out layup to end the half, the Thunder duo made important plays to give Team USA the win. After the game, Durant explained his mindset and how he fits into the Team USA gameplan.
“I’m just going to play my game here and do whatever coach needs me to do and try to help as much as I can,” Durant said.
The exhibition game was a hard fought, physical and at times chippy battle, and was a good test for Team USA, which plays Spain on Tuesday in its final tune-up before the Olympics. Durant, Westbrook and Harden will get their first opportunity to square off against Thunder forward Serge Ibaka and the Spanish side.
“It’ll be a tough game,” Durant said. “We just have to come out and play hard and play together and we’ll be fine. It’ll be fun playing against my teammate.”