Otherwise, there was little celebrating for the Americans during or after the game.
The party they want can't come until Sunday afternoon.
"It's been a fun ride, but we want to compete on Sunday," forward Kevin Love said.
The U.S. beat Spain 118-107 in the Beijing final, pulling away after leading by just four with about 2½ minutes left. The Spanish are ranked second in the world behind the Americans, and have much more size with brothers Pau and Marc Gasol.
"We'll have a difficult challenge with Spain because they're really big. But they'll have a challenge with us, too," U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Bryant finished with 13 points, hours after seeing his chances strengthen for another title with the Los Angeles Lakers.
This glowing group of bright stars couldn't even make basketball's biggest news Friday, that coming when Orlando finally traded All-Star center to Dwight Howard to the Lakers in a four-team deal. U.S. swingman Andre Iguodala was part of it, getting sent from Philadelphia to Denver.
Howard was supposed to be here, forced to pull out because of back surgery. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Derrick Rose also were lost to injuries.
The Americans seem just fine without them.
The climb back to the top of the basketball world after Argentina beat them in the 2004 semifinals was a difficult one for the Americans.
Staying there seems inevitable.
Though the Americans did have a close game against Lithuania, they are averaging 116.7 points — right behind the Dream Team's record of 117.3 — with a low of 98.
They've defended only as much as they felt they needed to — and that hasn't been much — but came out locked in on that end Friday.
Durant blocked Luis Scola's shot into the U.S. bench, then stole his pass for an uncontested dunk and a 15-4 lead. A 3-pointer by Bryant made it 18-6, but Argentina ran off nine straight points to get within three, and the U.S. lead was just 24-19 after one.
With the U.S. leading by three early in the second, Krzyzewski inserted James, Bryant and Durant together, and James quickly took over the game. Powering to the basket and daring any Argentine player to get in front of him, he scored seven straight points, turning a 30-27 edge into a 10-point lead.
The Argentines hung in behind their 3-point shooting, Ginobili beating the buzzer with their fifth of the period to pull within 47-40 at the half.
Scola and Carlos Delfino added 15 points apiece for Argentina, trying to go out with a third straight Olympic medal for its "Golden Generation," the group of veterans who helped the Argentines replace the Americans atop the basketball world for a time.
But they haven't been able to find enough young stars to mix in with their old-timers, while the Americans have blended in youngsters like Durant and Russell Westbrook from their team that won the world basketball championships two years ago.