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Kevin Durant leads Team USA romp over Argentina after stunning 0-2 exhibition start

·3 min read
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This is what's expected of USA Basketball.

After a stunning 0-2 start in exhibition play, Team USA opened Tuesday's Olympics warmup game against Argentina with a 33-19 first-quarter lead. It didn't look back.

The Americans rode hot shooting from 3-point distance and a strong defensive effort to a 108-80 win over Argentina in Las Vegas. The win won't extinguish concerns about the team's slow start less than two weeks out from its July 25 debut at the Tokyo Olympics. But it should temper calls to hit the panic button.

Kevin Durant set the tone early with a pair of 3-pointers to help Team USA to a 10-4 lead. By the time the first quarter was over, the Americans had knocked down six 3-pointers to account for 18 of their 33 points. 

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Durant, Beal lead charge

Durant finished with 17 points and six rebounds while connecting on 3-of-5 shots from behind the arc. He was joined by fellow starters Damian Lillard, Zach Lavine, Bam Adebayo and Bradley Beal in double figures as Beal matched his 17 points while connecting on 2-of-4 3-pointers.

It was a complete effort on both sides of the floor for Team USA who shot 51.4% from the field while connecting on 13-of-29 (44.8%) from 3-point distance. The Americans won the rebound battle, 40-34 while holding Argentina to 38.4% shooting from the floor. 

Argentina struggles again

Retired 41-year-old NBA veteran Luis Scola led Argentina with 16 points and five rebounds. Facundo Campazzo, who started for the Denver Nuggets after Jamal Murray's injury, tallied 12 points but struggled from the field on a 4-of-12 effort. 

It was another disappointing effort for Argentina, which entered exhibition play in Las Vegas as the No. 4 team in the world, but lost to Nigeria, 94-71 on Monday.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 12:  Kevin Durant #7 of the United States brings the ball up the court against the the Australia Boomers during an exhibition game at Michelob Ultra Arena ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 12, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Australia defeated the United States 91-83.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Kevin Durant. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Are more struggles in store for Team USA?

Tuesday's win for Team USA arrives a day after a shocking 91-83 loss to Australia. That loss came on the heels of Saturday's 90-87 loss to Nigeria, a pair of results that raised doubts about this team's ability to win gold in Tokyo. 

Team USA won without Jayson Tatum who is day-to-day with right knee soreness. The team played its third straight game without Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, who are all slated to join the team in Tokyo after the NBA Finals. 

Team USA still boasted four current NBA All-Stars on Tuesday in Durant, Lillard, Beal and Lavine — four more than Argentina put on the floor. Anything short of a big win against a team playing below expectations would have set off alarm bells. 

For now, consider the panic around Team USA on pause. The Americans are -400 BetMGM betting favorites to win the gold medal following Tuesday's win.

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