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Dream team send Boomers a message
21:22 AEST Tue Aug 7 2012

Kevin Durant and the US Dream Team sent a clear message of intent to Australia's Boomers - and any other play-off opponents - with a second half blitz of Argentina in the Olympic basketball tournament.

In a final pool round clash of unbeaten teams and champions from the last two Olympics, the Americans wanted to make a statement ahead of the knockout rounds after a lethargic win over Lithuania.

And they did so in style as they crushed the world No.3-ranked team 126-97 late on Monday to set up their quarter-final meeting with the Boomers on Wednesday.

Sparked by NBA season scoring champion Durant, they turned up the heat in both defence and offence and routed the Argentines 66-38 in the second half after being just one point ahead at halftime.

"That second half is how we want to play," said Durant, who was on fire from three-point range.

Durant scored 17 of his 28 points during the Americans' 42-point third quarter, and finished eight of 10 from three-point attempts - the last one from well beyond 25 feet.

"It sort of developed, but anybody in their right mind, when he gets shooting the ball like that, there's only one thing to do: Get the ball to him," said point guard Chris Paul of the plan to feed Durant.

"Luckily, we have a team that has the presence of mind to get it to him. He is unbelievable.

"We have to yell at him to shoot the ball and as you see, he usually makes it."

LeBron James added 18 points, including the Americans' first seven of the third quarter before Durant took over. Paul finished with 17.

"We're great shooting team, but in close games sometimes you've got to go down and get some easy ones, and I wanted the ball, whether it was layups or in the post," James said.

"Once you get a couple easy ones at the rim, then the 3-pointers open up and you saw what KD was able to do."

Largely shut out in the second half, Manu Ginobili scored 16 points for Argentina (3-2), who would have won Group A via tiebreaker if they had blown out the US.

Instead, they finished third and will face Brazil in the quarter-finals.

The game between the longtime rivals got testy in the second half, and they could see each other again soon. They would meet in the semifinals for the third straight Olympics if both win on Wednesday.

"You kind of want to send a message a little bit," Kobe Bryant said. "This was the second game in a row that a team has played us close. We didn't want to give them confidence."

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