Bryant Finally Erupts in Win Over Australia
These Olympics have not been Kobe Bryant’s finest work. At 33, he is Team USA’s oldest player by four years, and he’s looked like it for long stretches of the tournament. He missed all but one of his seven shots in Team USA’s too-close victory over Lithuania last week, and Wednesday’s quarterfinal game against Australia didn’t start much better. After stepping out of bounds for one turnover, he dribbled his way into another.
Perhaps Bryant had just been waiting for these London Games to give him some drama. After the Aussies scored 11 straight points to open the second half – giving the fans at North Greenwich Arena a few fleeting thoughts of witnessing a monumental upset – the ball inevitably found its way into Bryant’s hands. Bryant, as he often has in such tense moments, delivered.
Bryant buried a 3-pointer over Australia’s defense, came up with a steal then quickly pulled up to drill another 3-pointer. The rout was on, and Team USA was well on its way to a 119-86 victory over Australia that lifted them into Friday’s semifinals against Argentina. After opening the game by missing his first four shots, Bryant scored all 20 of his points in the second half. If the U.S. beats Argentina, it will face the winner of Spain-Russia in Sunday’s gold-medal game.