The Americans needed a little time to blow out the Australians in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Olympic basketball bracket on Wednesday, but just as usual, a two-minute spurt of forced turnovers leading to a flurry of three-pointers put Team USA in the driver's seat in the 119-86 victory.
Leading by 14 heading into the fourth quarter, it was Kobe Bryant who finally broke out of a slump that had stymied him pretty much throughout the Olympics thus far. But Bryant hit four three-pointers within a 1:15 span during the middle of the fourth.
And right out the window went any chance at former Arizona Wildcat Andre Iguodala breaking into the starting lineup.
A few days prior, Tom Haberstroh of ESPN wrote a very valid column about why Iguodala should start in place of Bryant, and other chatter on the internet supported, at least, the idea of Bryant being replaced by someone. Iguodala was a logical choice, a guy who could provide strong defense and a more pass-ready mentality in a starting lineup with enough scoring punch.
Though it's hard to see coach Mike Krzyzewski shoving Kobe, essentially the team's captain, to the bench, it made sense. Iguodala played well against Argentina a game prior, scoring 13 and grabbing nine boards in 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, he provided a defensive presence the aging Bryant hasn't shown capable of. In addition, Bryant's play, even in the first half of the Australia win, had been out of rhythm, forced and frustrating.
Then came the barrage on Wednesday.
Iguodala scored just three points in garbage minutes and grabbed one rebound in eight minutes. It appears Krzyzewski is divvying up the minutes on a game-by-game basis, and that's fair.
But unlike college basketball -- heck, we even see it there -- roles aren't given fairly. Iguodala has earned the starting spot, arguably, but he wasn't going to get it now, nor was he going to get it if Bryant had continued to struggle.
That's the way of the world. But there's still more basketball to play. The Argentinian team is the next opponent, and with Team USA having quite a bit of motivation against Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and company, Iguodala will have his chance to contribute mightily against a team that, from the American viewpoint, has set itself up for trouble.