Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008 | 6:43 a.m.
As usual, the U.S. turned another basketball game into a blowout at the Beijing Games.
This time, Australia paid the price in a 116-85 defeat to Team USA in a quarterfinal of the knockout stage of the Olympics.
The Americans outscored the Aussies 30-19 in the second quarter and 34-18 in the third. After the first 10-minute quarter, the U.S. only had a 25-24 advantage.
"We understand that, in the first quarter, we won't stretch games out," Kobe Bryant told NBC. "I think we settled in, defensively. We stopped scrambling as much."
With two free throws at the end of the third quarter, Chris Bosh gave the U.S. its first 30-point advantage, at 82-52. A deep 3-point shot by Bryant in the fourth quarter made it 99-67.
And Tayshaun Prince ensured that there would be a 30-point cushion with a 3-pointer from the left side with 27.8 seconds left, for the game's final points.
Bryant had 25 points for the U.S., which is 6-0 in China. LeBron James added 16 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals.
Australia center Andrew Bogut sat on the sideline most of the second half with an injured left ankle.
The U.S. plays Argentina on Friday in a semifinal. Argentina defeated Greece, 80-78, in another quarterfinal Wednesday at Wukesong Indoor Stadium. Manu Ginboli led the Argentines, who heavily rely on 3-pointers, with 24 points.
Argentina beat the U.S. in a semifinal at the Athens Games in 2004 and won the gold medal over Italy.
"Passion, I guess," Ginboli told NBC about what's inside his light blue and white uniform. "I love these colors. I'm very proud of the group I'm in. We play 'til we die.
"I'd prefer to play the U.S. in the final. It'll be a tough game. They're playing unbelievably tough, with courage and aggressiveness."
Bryant, who is wildly popular in China, sat by himself in the stands and scouted the game.
In Friday's other semifinal, Lithuania plays Spain.