LONDON -- As the shot fell through the net, Kobe Bryant held up three fingers on each hand. It was his third straight 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, enough for the U.S. men's Olympic team to finally put away stubborn Australia.
Yes, all's fine with Bryant, and the Americans' gold medal hopes, as well.
Bryant silenced his critics and broke open a tight game with six 3-pointers in the second half Wednesday night as the U.S. advanced to the semifinals of the London Games with a 119-86 victory over Australia.
"Somebody made him mad. I could see it in his eyes," American Kevin Durant said. "I wanted him to kind of turn it on and that's what he did."
On a night when LeBron James had the first Olympic triple-double by a U.S. player, the story was Bryant's awakening from his Olympic slumber. The five-time NBA champion has even said this team could have beaten the Dream Team, and on the 20th anniversary of that squad's gold-medal win, he put on the kind of show that makes his claim hard to dismiss.
Bryant scored all of his 20 points after halftime, finally delivering the kind of game expected of him in London.
He had insisted his time would come, and none of his teammates ever doubted it.