LONDON (Reuters) - The U.S. men’s basketball team booked their expected place in the semi-finals of the Olympic tournament on Wednesday but were given a good game by Australia before Kobe Bryant put on a fourth-quarter show in a 119-86 win.
Bryant drilled four three-pointers in succession to chants of “Kobe, Kobe” from the North Greenwich Arena crowd as the Americans ran away from a fatigued Australian team that had given their all for 30 rousing minutes.
The victory completed the lineup for Friday’s medals round games, where the winners advance to the gold medal match, while the losers contest the bronze on Sunday’s closing day of the London Olympics.
Defending champions United States will go against Argentina, while Spain, losing finalists to the U.S. in Beijing, will go against Russia.
Bryant led the winners with 20 points, while LeBron James registered a triple double with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists.
Patrick Mills paced Australia with 26 points, with Joe Ingles adding 19.
The Australians kept in touch with the Americans into the third quarter when after an 11-0 run to start the period they drew within 56-53. They were still a respectable 84-70 behind heading into the fourth quarter.
Bryant’s scintillating shooting display ignited a 16-2 run that turned the rest of the game into a U.S. highlight reel.
Editing by Alison Williams