The US Olympic team blew hot and cold, but had enough scoring punch to hold off Argentina 86-80 in a bruising pre-Olympics exhibition game at Palau Sant Jordi today.
Forward Kevin Durant led the defending Olympic champions with 27 points and Kobe Bryant added 18, while Manu Ginobili paced Argentina with 23 points.
Argentina came within four at 74-78 with less than three minutes to go, but the United States held them off with three-pointers from Durant and Chris Paul, and some physical inside work by LeBron James.
A red-hot start for the Americans turned icy cold in the second quarter. The US team sank their first seven shots of the game, including a trio of three-pointers by NBA scoring champion Durant, as they stormed to a 16-1 lead and 31-16 after the first quarter.
Argentina - the 2008 bronze medallists and 2004 Olympic champions - fought back to trail 40-47 at the intermission, after falling behind by as many as 20 points.
The Americans surged again at the start of the third quarter, scoring the first seven points in an 11-3 run, but saw another 20-point lead evaporate.
Argentina, spurred by seven points from Carlos Delfino, outscored the US 12-3 at the end of the quarter to make it 61-72 heading into the fourth.
Before heading to London, the US team will play their final tune-up match against Spain on Tuesday, a rematch of their gold-medal game at Beijing.