Basketball: Durant leads fired-up U.S. over Argentina

LONDON Mon Aug 6, 2012 7:46pm EDT

Kevin Durant (C) of the U.S. reacts after a dunk against Argentina during their men's preliminary round Group A basketball match at the Basketball Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 6, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Kevin Durant (C) of the U.S. reacts after a dunk against Argentina during their men's preliminary round Group A basketball match at the Basketball Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

LONDON (Reuters) - The U.S. men's basketball team pulled away in the second half of a bad-tempered game against Argentina and claimed a 126-97 victory on Monday to claim a top seeding in the Olympic tournament's quarter-finals.

Players were knocked down on both sides and had to be separated from each other at the end of the first half in an ultra-physical game that seemed to awaken the sleeping giant U.S. team that squeaked by Lithuania in their previous game.

The Americans completed a 5-0 run through the preliminary phase of the tournament and will face Australia (3-2) in Wednesday's quarter-finals.

Argentina could have leapfrogged the U.S. team into first place in Group A with a win, but after going into intermission trailing just 60-59, they were buried under a flurry of three-pointers from Kevin Durant and the rout was on.

The U.S. team surged to a 105-77 lead going into the fourth quarter and after Russell Westbrook was given a technical foul for taunting after slamming through a basket, the game continued on to a peaceful finish.

Durant led the Americans with 28 points, hitting 8-of-10 from three-point range, and LeBron James added 18.

Manu Ginobili scored 16 points as Argentina's high scorer.

Argentina slipped to third seed in Group A and will play Brazil (4-1) in the quarters.

Group B top seed Russia (4-1) will play Lithuania (2-3), while France (4-1) meets Spain (3-2).

(Editing by Jason Neely)

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