Kobe Bryant's US, Pau Gasol's Spain to square off for Olympic gold


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Gasol has shown he's a different player when he is leading Spain as opposed to when he is Bryant's sidekick with the Los Angeles Lakers. When he's wearing the purple and gold, he's criticized often for being "soft" and unwilling to play physical.

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With Spain, however, the big man is the team's gritty backbone, the one they look to when things aren't going so well. That was evident when Spain rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to beat Russia 67-59 in the first semifinal.

In the other semifinal, as expected, the U.S. moved forward after blowing out Argentina 109-83.

Bryant started the semifinal against Argentina with a little extra hop in his step after hearing that his Lakers had acquired All-Star center Dwight Howard during the NBA off season.

After being relatively quiet by his standards on the scoring front, Bryant came out firing against Argentina. He hit three 3-pointers and threw down a reverse dunk in the first four minutes.

In the women's 4x100-meter relay race, Carmelita Jeter crossed the finish line for the U.S. pointing the baton at the clock, which showed a world record of 40.82. That shattered the old record of 41.37 set by East Germany in 1985. It also was the Americans' first gold in the relay since 1996.

Jeter, along with teammates Tianna Madison, 200-meter champion Allyson Felix and Bianca Knight, wrapped themselves in flags and then looked up at the Jumbotron to watch the replay. When the shot of Jeter crossing the line was shown, Knight thrust her fist in the air.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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