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The preliminary round of the 2012 Olympic basketball tournament is now complete, and thus, the single-elimination medal round can begin. The quarterfinals were essentially set prior to Team USA's blowout win over Argentina on Monday, and now, they are official. With their victory, Team USA will square off against Australia, the fourth-place team from Group B, at 5:15 EST on Wednesday.
Here is the complete schedule for the quarterfinals, all of which will be played on Wednedsay.
Russia (4-1 in Group B) vs. Lithuania (2-3 in Group A): Russia's magic in last-second finishes ran out on Monday against Australia, but coach David Blatt will take that rather than in the medal round. Lithuania, meanwhile, was very impressive against Team USA, but pretty erratic otherwise. They're always a threat, though, and Russia, while impressive, has played a lot of close games. 9 a.m. EST.
France (4-1 in Group A) vs. Spain (3-2 in Group B): After losing to Team USA in their opener, France looked generally impressive in winning their last four games. Games against Tunisia and Nigeria were a bit too close for comfort, but Tony Parker and company are a formidable threat. Spain's pedigree is obvious, and they have as good a chance as anyone to make the Gold Medal game. However, they need both Juan Carlos Navarro and Marc Gasol to fight off nagging injuries. 11:15 a.m. EST.
Brazil (4-1 in Group B) vs. Argentina (3-2 in Group A): Brazil defeated Spain on Monday to clinch this spot ... and may have made their lives more difficult in the process. Not only does a semifinal matchup with Team USA loom, but so does a difficult quarterfinal against an experienced Argentina squad. Argentina showed their age at times in losses to France and Team USA, but led by Manu Ginobili, they're the kind of team you never want to count out in this kind of tournament. 3 p.m. EST.
Team USA (5-0 in Group A) vs. Australia (3-2 in Group B): Save for their game against Lithuania and their first half against Argentina, Team USA has been dominant thus far. However, Australia, led by point guard Patty Mills, has also been impressive, finishing off a 3-2 record in a strong Group B after Mills' thrilling buzzer beater against Russia on Monday. 5:15 p.m. EST.
Thanks in large part to a dominating third quarter, the United States' men's basketball team pulled away from Argentina, winning 126-97.
Team USA took a slim 60-59 lead into halftime but outscored Argentina 42-17 in the third quarter to blow the game open. The second half surge was led by LeBron James and Kevin Durant. James scored the United States' first seven points in the third quarter. He finished the game with 18 points and five assists.
Durant then caught fire from 3-point range, helping the United States crush Argentina's upset bid. Durant made 5-of-6 3-pointers in the quarter. He finished the game as the United States' leading scorer with 28 points, including 17 in the third quarter.
With the win, the United States finished a perfect 5-0 in the preliminary round, winning Group B. They will face Australia in the quarterfinal round.
What was previously a ho-hum game between Team USA and Argentina in the final game of group play in the 2012 Olympic basketball tournament suddenly took on a different tone near the end of the third quarter. As Carmelo Anthony took a three-point shot, point guard Facundo Campazzao, starting for the injured Pablo Prigioni, appeared to hit Anthony deliberately in the groin.
Here's a GIF of the play.
This enraged several Team USA players, as well as coach Mike Krzyzewski. The players and coach were jawing at several Argentina players as the third quarter ended, and they remained angry in the fourth quarter. It's always difficult to truly measure intent, but it certainly looks like Campazzao meant to hit Anthony there.
In any event, Team USA's anger was let out in one jaw-dropping slam dunk by Russell Westbrook. Here that is.
There remains a decent chance that these two teams see each other again in this tournament. If Team USA tops Australia as expected and Argentina defeats Brazil in the quarterfinals, the two teams will face each other again with a spot in the Gold Medal game on the line.
Up by just one point on Argentina at halftime of their final Olympic basketball preliminary-round game, Team USA needed someone to step up ad take control of the game. Luckily, the two best players in the world are on their team. LeBron James dominated early in the third quarter and Kevin Durant started raining three-pointers, keying a 42-17 third quarter that saw Team USA take a 102-76 lead.
James scored seven of Team USA's first nine points to set the tone, and once the lead started to grow, Durant poured it on. He scored 17 third-quarter points, including a stretch of five three-pointers in a row, as the game became a blowout. Argentina never picked up Durant in transition, allowing him to walk into wide-open looks. Well, except for this one.
With Team USA locked into the top spot in Group A and Argentina stuck in third, both teams will probably play out the string in the fourth quarter.
It's been an offensive explosion for both Team USA and Argentina in the final game of the 2012 Olympic basketball preliminary round. Neither team has played very much defense, which explains why Team USA leads, 60-59, at halftime. It's the most points Team USA has ever surrendered in a half in Olympics history.
Argentina is shooting well over 50 percent from the field, while Team USA has converted on 9-22 from three-point range. Chris Paul is leading the way for Team USA, scoring 14 points and breaking down Argentina's defense. Kevin Durant added 11 points, while LeBron James and Kobe Bryant had nine each. Manu Ginobili has 16 points to lead Argentina, while reserve forward Leonardo Gutierrez has 11.
No matter what happens, it's likely that Team USA will win Group A and face Australia in the quarterfinals. Argentina will likely face Brazil, with the winner to get Team USA in the semifinals.
For the second straight game, it looks like Team USA will be locked into a battle in the 2012 Olympic basketball preliminary rounds. Two days after escaping against Lithuania on Saturday, Team USA has faced a tough fight from a veteran Argentina squad. A buzzer-beating three-pointer from Kevin Durant gave Team USA a 34-32 lead after a tight first quarter.
Once again, Team USA's offense has outperformed its defense. Led by hot starts from Durant (11 points), Kobe Bryant (seven points) and Chris Paul (six points), Team USA is shooting nearly 50 percent from the field, including 7-15 from three-point range. Argentina, however, is getting whatever they want on the other end, led by 11 points from star Manu Ginobili. Argentina has hit 11 of its 17 field goals, including 3-4 from three-point range and 7-7 from the free-throw line.
Team USA and Argentina have both clinched berths to the Olympic basketball quarterfinals in London, and while seeding is on the line, Argentina has elected to rest one of its starters. Point guard Pablo Prigioni will not play as he continues to deal with a kidney stone problem, and he'll be replaced by Facundo Campazo.
Prigioni has been dealing with this problem throughout the Olympics. He sat out Argentina's win over Tunisia on Thursday, then played 11 minutes in their victory over Nigeria on Friday. The veteran point guard, who will be playing for the New York Knicks next season, will be needed in the next round.
Team USA currently has all of their players in uniform. A win clinches the No. 1 seed from Group A for Team USA, while a loss likely drops Argentina into third place and a quarterfinal berth with rival Brazil on Team USA's side of the bracket.
The United States men's basketball team will play their final game of group play Monday against Argentina.
Brazil vs. Spain could become basketball's version of the badminton scandal.
The top three seeds in Group A of the Olympic men's basketball tournament remain in the air. Team USA is in the pole position for the No. 1 spot and a quarterfinal match against Australia on Wednesday. But to guarantee that seed, the United States needs to beat Argentina in the final game of group play on Monday.
France, which plays Nigeria in its final group game, has locked up a bid to the knockouts, but could enter as either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed. It would prefer the No. 2 seed, because that would estrange the team from Team USA in the elimination bracket. To win No. 2, France needs a win over Nigeria and a Team USA win over Argentina.
Alternately, France could get the spot with a win and an 49-point win by Argentina over Team USA. We would not recommend holding your breath for that result.
To claim No. 1, Argentina either needs a France loss or needs to beat Team USA by at least 17. Again, we do not encourage you to hold your breath.
The intrigue continues in Group B, where Brazil and Spain each have incentive to lose their finale, as doing so will estrange them from Team USA in the knockout bracket.