Six minutes into the game, Andres Nocioni splashed a three pointer, and Argentina took a 19-9 lead on the United States in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Rio Olympics men’s basketball tournament. Things were going, in a word, badly.
I don’t want to pin all of the credit for the victory on former Marquette Golden Eagles great and current Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler, because the U.S. had made a 7-0 run when he entered the game with just over three minutes left in the first quarter. The Americans were still trailing 19-16, though, and when the period ended after three straight minutes of Jimmy Butler doing Jimmy Butler things, Team USA was up 25-21.
A steal, a fast break layup, and an old-fashioned three point play from Butler capped off a 27-2 run by the Americans as they took a 36-21 lead in the game, and that was pretty much that. They maintained that lead through the rest of the second quarter and then tacked on another 10 points in the third before eventually winning by a final score of 105-78.
The United States advances to Friday’s semifinal contest with Spain. España advanced to the semifinals with a 92-67 victory over France. The winner of USA-Spain will advance to Sunday’s gold medal game against the winner of the Australia-Serbia final. That’s three teams from Group A in the semifinals, so I guess it’s not that bad that the United States struggled a little bit towards the end of group play?
Jimmy Butler finished the game with just seven points on 3-for-10 shooting, which isn’t great. But he contributed four rebounds, four assists, and the aforementioned steal that capped off the gigantic Team USA run.
Friday, August 19
1:30pm CT: USA vs Spain (NBC Sports Network)