The U.S. men’s basketball team, despite being undefeated so far in the 2016 Rio Olympics, wasn’t always playing at its sharpest in recent games. While Carmelo Anthony did become the leading scorer in Team USA history in their win over Australia last week, only ten points separated both teams at the final buzzer.

That win was then followed by three-point victories over Serbia last Friday, then over France last Sunday. But with the semifinals beckoning, the Americans were sharp on both ends of the floor once again, triumphing over Argentina in dominant fashion, winning 105-78 on Wednesday night.

Paul George sparks strong second unit performance

Although it was Kevin Durant who led the way, scoring 27 points, including 13 in the first quarter, it was Team USA’s second unit that provided that much-needed spark that helped them easily take care of NBA veteran-laden Argentina. Indiana Pacers forward Paul George came off the bench to score 17 points and made several key plays on a 27-2 run from the first to the second quarter that gave the Americans a 36-21 lead with 8:16 remaining in the second.

Speaking after the game, Durant said that it was Team USA’s “passion (and) energy” that changed for the better in their win over Argentina. With Team USA scheduled to face Spain in a semifinal game on Friday, Durant believes that the team would need to continue being “one unit” just like they were when they routed the Argentines.

George seconded his teammate’s opinion, saying that the Americans would be little more than a “joke” if the team didn’t play with effort and heart to back up their talent.

Argentina’s NBA vets get a sad sendoff

The otherwise powerful Argentine men’s basketball team featured four NBA veterans in their lineup – guards Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino and forwards Andres Nocioni and Luis Scola – but even that wasn’t enough to remotely threaten Team USA during and after their big run.

As such, it was a sad way to end what had been a glorious era in Argentine basketball, as those four players probably won’t be ever returning to the Olympics due to their advanced age.

It’s also worth mentioning that those four veterans were a key part of the Argentine team that upset Team USA in the 2004 Olympics and went on to win the gold medal in men’s basketball.

Keeping that in mind, Carmelo Anthony, who was just 20 when he played in the 2004 Olympics, and Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski, made certain to give respect where respect was due, expressing their thoughts to Ginobili after the game.

"I'm not going to say the exact words (they used),” said Ginobili, referring to the gesture of respect from Anthony and Krzyzewski. "They were just very cool and important displays of affection and respect."

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