LONDON — One more for the gold, and seemingly nothing that can prevent it.
This U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team might not slow down until it’s standing at the center of the medals platform again.
Kevin Durant scored 19 points, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony added 18 apiece, and the U.S. powered its way back to the gold-medal game by beating Argentina 109-83 on Friday night.
“Anything less than this would have been unsatisfying for us,” Anthony said. “We believe that we could get here and we’re here now. We got one game left.”
The U.S. will play Spain on Sunday, a rematch of their victory four years ago for the title in Beijing.
The Americans have said they feel this team is better than that squad, and they are certainly more potent.
In the third consecutive Olympic semifinal between the U.S. and Argentina, the Americans kept pulling ahead only to see the Argentines climb back in –until the U.S. finally put them away for good.
Manu Ginobili scored 18 points for Argentina, which needs to beat Russia on Sunday in the bronze-medal game to medal for the third consecutive Olympics.
Kobe Bryant scored 11 of his 13 points to get the U.S off to a quick start, but Argentina hung around until early in the second half, just as it did Monday in the final game of pool play.
“We had a great run in the first half,” Ginobili said. “We started the third very well. And then we blinked.”
And just like that night, the Americans hit them with a wave of dunks and 3-pointers in the third quarter that turned it into a romp.
While not quite as explosive as their 42-17 period in Monday’s 126-97 win, this one had just as many highlights.
Ahead by only four after Ginobili opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer, the Americans pulled away with James’ strength and Durant’s shot.
Durant made two 3-pointers in an 8-0 spurt that pushed the lead to 13, and when Argentina got back within eight, the NBA’s MVP and runner-up teamed up to blow it open.
James had a basket and drove for a powerful dunk while being fouled. Durant followed with consecutive 3-pointers, and James tipped in a miss and suddenly the lead was 19, 72-53, with 1:30 left in the period.
It became a runaway in the fourth when Anthony hit three 3-pointers in 42 seconds, the American bench spilling onto the floor as he strutted back to midcourt after the last one made it 93-64.
“Anybody on this team can get going at any point. That’s the dangerous part of this team,” Anthony said. “You never know who’s going to get it going. Tonight, Kobe started it. Durant got it going and I got hot out there, too.”
The U.S. beat Spain 118-107 in the Beijing final, pulling away after leading by just four with about 2½ minutes left.