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US brushes off Argentina

Spain knocks out France, Parker for spot in semis.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – The nail-biters ended for the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team.

So did a golden era of international basketball.

Emphatically stopping a stretch of three straight close games, the Americans advanced to the semifinals by sprinting past Manu Ginobili and Argentina, 105-78 on Wednesday night.

In front of a chanting, flag-waving crowd of Argentines who came to throw a raucous farewell party for their Golden Generation, the Americans delivered their most complete performance in Rio.

“What a remarkable run by Argentina and so we knew we had to match that energy tonight. I thought we did,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

Turning a slow start into an early ending with a 27-2 run in the first half, the Americans put away one old rival and set up a meeting with another. They will play Spain on Friday in a rematch of the last two gold-medal games.
Australia meets Serbia in the other semifinal.

Kevin Durant scored 27 points for the Americans, who had played three straight close games for the first time under Krzyzewski, setting off a round of questions at home and in Rio de Janeiro about what was wrong with them.

The answer might be nothing. At least there wasn’t against Argentina.

“We wanted to come out and our whole thing was dominating,” forward Carmelo Anthony said.

Meanwhile, before going their separate ways, Tony Parker and Pau Gasol met near mid-court and the new teammates shared a warm embrace following Spain’s lopsided win.

They’ll soon be together in San Antonio to chase an NBA title.

They’ll never meet again in the Olympics.

Nearly written off after two losses to open the Rio Games, Spain is back in the men’s basketball semifinals for the third straight time following a 92-67 rout of Parker and France in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.