The eldest member of Team USA pulled out some of his old tricks in an 86-80 win over Argentina, as Kobe Bryant scored 18 points to help the Americans in an exhibition tune up for the Olympics from Barcelona, Spain.
The fifth leading scorer in NBA history wasted no time filling up the cup after he’d taken only three shots in Thursday’s blowout win over Great Britain, this time scoring 10 points in the first few minutes with a pair of threes and a layup and then dunk at the rim.
In a 19-3 USA barrage to open the contest, Kevin Durant — the player who narrowly edged Bryant for the league’s 2011-12 scoring title — had the other nine points, on three triples, one of the assists coming from a between-the-legs Bryant dime. Oklahoma City’s star finished with a game-high 27 points.
With NBA vets like Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola, however, Argentina wouldn’t give up, rallying from 20 down in the third quarter to cut the lead to as few as four down the stretch.
Bryant came out with 4:58 left in the fourth with the USA up 78-68, but Coach Mike Krzyzewski called his number again after an Argentina triple cut the lead to seven, which preceded a Ginobili and-1 (missed free throw) that made it 78-74.
But Durant and Chris Paul hit back-to-back triples to put the game on ice, bringing the USA exhibition record to 4-0 ahead of a showdown with Spain in the team’s final warm up game ahead of the London Games.