LONDON — All’s fine with Kobe Bryant, and the gold medal hopes of the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team, too.
Bryant silenced his critics and broke open a tight game with six 3-pointers in the second half Wednesday night as the Americans advanced to the semifinals of the London Games with a 119-86 victory over Australia.
On a night when LeBron James had a triple-double, the story was Bryant’s awakening from his Olympic slumber.
The five-time NBA champion scored 20 points, flashing three fingers in the air after his third consecutive 3-pointer in the fourth quarter had pushed the game well out of reach and proved that he would indeed deliver the kind of game expected of him in London.
“I kind of knew what button to push with him. I was talking to him at halftime and in the third quarter and I guess I pushed the button. He woke up and to see that, I’ve been on the other side of the ball and had that situation before,” teammate Carmelo Anthony said.
James finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists for the Americans, who advanced to their third consecutive Olympic semifinal meeting with Argentina, which beat Brazil earlier Wednesday.
The Americans beat the Argentines 126-97 on Monday in the final game of pool play, yet another night they didn’t need much from Bryant, who came in averaging just 9.4 points and hearing whispers that something must be wrong with him, though both he and his teammates kept assuring people there was no problem.
This time was different, and he delivered when he was needed most.
Russia plays Spain in the other semifinal.