Bryant keeps the Dream alive
Olympics:Kobe Bryant exploded into life in the second half as the United States ‘Dream Team’ eased into the semi-finals of the London Olympics with a 119-86 win over Australia. Australia fought hard to keep the Americans in check, but had no answer once Bryant found his stroke.
The Los Angeles Lakers man had done little to live up to his superstar status in London prior to tonight and reached half-time in this game 0-for-four from the field and with as many fouls committed — 14 — as field goals made in the entire tournament.
But that changed in a big way in the second half as he made six-of-nine three-point attempts to fire a United States surge that killed off the Boomers. “When you’re playing on this team you really get easy shots,” said Bryant, who finished with 20 points.
“You’re playing with so many great players, I just found myself in a really good rhythm, found some daylight so I shot the ball. I’ve just been searching for something to get me going, for something to activate the ‘Black Mamba’ as coach calls it.
“I needed something to keep me on edge, so I can then ride that edge for the rest of the game.”
Team-mate Carmelo Anthony was claiming to be the one to have fired up Bryant, but he laughed that off. “He was just saying to me, ‘Let me see you, come out’, but I was already revved up,” Bryant said.
Bryant was not the only one firing. LeBron James has already done plenty of impressive things in these Olympics, but the Miami Heat man took it to a new level here with what USA Basketball officials believed to be the first triple-double in team history, collecting 11 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists.
“LeBron was magnificent tonight, but he’s been magnificent the whole time,” United States coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He’s so unselfish. His rebounding and his passing tonight were incredible. He’s all about winning, he’s the best basketball player right now and he showed that tonight.”
Australia played the Americans hard in the first half but were let down by the simple things. They reached the interval shooting just nine of 17 from the free-throw line. They were also missing some straightforward lay-ups, with Patty Mills, Aron Baynes and Aleks Maric all guilty.
That allowed an American team hardly firing on all cylinders themselves early on to pull away gradually.