LONDON » Kobe Bryant is all the way across the Atlantic Ocean from the fans and media pundits back home, but he knows what they’ve been thinking.
He knows they were wondering when he was going to break out of his scoring doldrums, when he was going to live up to his international stardom.
A guy known around the world by his first name is expected to score more than 9.4 points against the likes of Lithuania, France and Nigeria.
Finally, after a scoreless first half against Australia in an Olympic quarterfinal late Wednesday night, Bryant erupted with a dazzling performance that delighted the North Greenwich Arena crowd. He scored six 3-pointers in the second half — three in the span of 66 seconds — and finished with 20 points as Team USA turned a three-point lead into a 119-86 victory.
LeBron James recorded the first triple-double in Olympic history — 11 points, 14 rebounds (11 defensive), and 11 assists. Carmelo Anthony added 17 points, Deron Williams had 18, and Kevin Durant scored 14.
The U.S. will play Argentina, a rematch of Monday’s final group-play game, which Team USA won 126-97 after leading by just one at halftime. Argentina eliminated Brazil 82-77 in the quarterfinals earlier Wednesday. Spain plays Russia in the other semifinal.
Anthony took some credit for Bryant’s awakening. At some point early in the third quarter, he gave the Lakers star a quick pep talk, told him he wanted to see the Bryant he sees in the NBA.
"I was on him," Anthony said. "I woke the bomb up, and he responded in the third quarter. I knew which button to push."
"For some reason, it was my night," said Bryant, who agreed that Anthony’s words may have helped. "When you play with this team, you get a lot of open shots. I was just waiting for something to get me going. I got some shots, got into rhythm."