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LeBron James earned the first triple-double in Olympic history as Team USA defeated Australia 119-86 Wednesday.
James tallied 11 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists as the Americans moved within two wins of a gold medal.
They advanced to their third straight Olympic semifinal matchup with Argentina, which beat Brazil earlier Wednesday. The U.S. defeated Argentina 126-97 in its last game of pool play on Monday.
The U.S. controlled its quarterfinal game throughout the first half Wednesday, but Australia went on an 11-0 run to start the second. But Team USA rebounded thanks to scoring from Kobe Bryant, who had 20 points, and Deron Williams with 18. Patrick Mills scored 26 to lead Australia.
Bryant flashed three fingers in the air after his third consecutive 3-pointer put the game well out of reach in the fourth quarter.
"I kind of knew what button to push with him. I was talking to him at halftime and in the third quarter and I guess I pushed the button. He woke up and to see that, I've been on the other side of the ball and had that situation before," teammate Carmelo Anthony said.
Bryant, 33, came into Wednesday's game averaging just 9.4 points at London 2012 and hearing whispers that something must be wrong with him, though both he and his teammates kept assuring people there was no problem.
This time was different, and he delivered when he was needed most.
The only undefeated team in pool play, the Americans outscored their five opponents by 191 points (the next highest point differential was 53 by Brazil). They have been criticized for their defense, but score so easily that any lapses on defense are easily covered up on the offensive end.
"I would like to see our defense play a little bit longer, as close to 40 minutes then to 20, 25, 30," James said Tuesday. "But you know we have so many heavy hitters and so many home run hitters that we could break up a two-point game into a 13-, 14-, 15-point game in two or three possessions, you know, two or three minutes. It's great to be a part of something like that."
The Americans had only one truly close game (against Lithuania), but in its last game Argentina shredded the defense in the first half, trailing by only 1 at halftime. Then Team USA waltzed to a 42-17 third quarter, putting the game away.
"It's not dangerous for our team because it's not like we're out there not playing hard," James said. "It's not like we're out there not caring, because when we get to the sideline we say 'Hey, we've got to pick it up defensively, we've got to start playing defensively' and then we lock in. So I like the way we've been playing."
James' teammates certainly like the way he's playing. The reigning NBA MVP and Finals MVP could close out a superlative year with a gold medal, something Michael Jordan did in 1992. "He's more important than me," US coach Mike Krzyzewski said of James recently.
James' Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade, in London making a promotional experience, was asked Wednesday if there is any chance Team USA doesn't win the gold medal this week. "No. Simple as that," he replied. Wade would have joined James at the Olympics, but he is rehabbing his knee after undergoing surgery.
Next up for the Americans is Argentina, which beat them in Athens in 2004 on its way to the gold medal. Team USA took its revenge in 2008 on its way to the gold in Beijing.