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Olympics: Kirilenko, Russia come up short vs. Spain in semis

Published August 10, 2012 2:55 pm

Olympics • Former Jazzman scores just 10 points as Spain moves on to Gold Medal game
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

London •Â The horn sounded, and Andrei Kirilenko slumped near the free-throw line, frustrated and disappointed and dragging a bad leg.

He will not be playing for a gold medal at the London Olympics.

Instead, Spain earned a shot at the top prize - probably in a rematch of the 2008 final against the United States - by storming back against Kirilenko and his Russian team to win a men's basketball semifinal game 67-59 at the O2 Arena on Friday.

The former Jazz star and three-time Olympian hardly figured, either, despite his 10 points and eight rebounds.

Playing with what coach David Blatt said was a quadriceps injury, Kirilenko mostly wandered around the edge of the action for most of the game, seldom getting involved and enduring a miserable shooting night. He made just 2 of 12 shots, and missed 3 of 4 free throws in the final minute as the Russians scrambled futilely to save the game.

"We lost our composure, defensively," Kirilenko said. "We stopped being aggressive on the defensive end."

Indeed, the Russians frustrated Spain in an ugly first half, holding them to 21 percent shooting while building a 31-20 lead.

After halftime, though, Spain did it all - running and gunning past the Russians at every turn.

Center Pau Gasol scored 16 points, and point guard Jose Calderon scored 12 of his 14 in the second half, including a game-tying three-pointer at the third-quarter horn that energized the crowd and helped Spain pull away.

"We knew we could do it," Calderon said. "This team is unbelievable."

The Spaniards await the winner of the late semifinal between the U.S. and Argentina, which is a 23 1/2-point underdog, according to oddsmakers. The Americans have won two meetings in the last 17 days.

Meanwhile, Kirilenko must find a way to bounce back for the bronze-medal game on Sunday against the loser of the other semifinal. He said his leg is fine, but he was clearly limping at the end. He had been leading the Russians in scoring at 18.3 points per game, and Blatt said "we needed him out there."

"It's a tough loss," Kirilenko said, "but we wanted to get back for a medal. It doesn't matter which kind of medal. We have one more chance and we'll try to do it.

"Looking at the second half," he said, "Spain deserve to be in the final. Looking at the first half, we're supposed to be there."

mcl@sltrib.com

Twitter: @MCLTribune