Kevin Durant on Saturday scored 29 points as the United States played a tough defense to take revenge on France and win gold at the Tokyo Olympics with an 87-82 triumph.
It was the fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal for American basketball. Former Syracuse star Jerami Grant did not play, but won a gold medal at his first Olympics.
Durant added six rebounds and three assists to his record of 29 points. Jayson Tatum added 19 points and seven rebounds, while Jrue Holiday added 11 points and four steals.
Bam Adebayo scored six points, took six rebounds, distributed four assists and blocked three shots. Damian Lillard scored 11 points and three assists. Rudy Gobert led France with 16 points and eight rebounds.
France topped the United States 41-34, but the United States forced France to 18 turnovers. They quickly jumped 10-4, but the United States responded with a 14-5 run to take a lead that wouldn’t give up for the remainder of the game. Despite this, France held out most of the night.
The United States increased their lead to double digits in the second quarter, but the French stayed close as they reduced their lead to just five early in the first half.
As was the case at the Olympics, the Americans held the third quarter. The lead was pushed to a whopping 14 and looked like it was about to burst. But the three French in a row reduced their lead to eight with a quarter to go.
The US lead fell to three with less than six minutes to go, but it was then that Lillard helped take control of the game. He hit a few jumpers and Holiday made a transition layup for a quick 6-0 run to restore the lead to nine.
The United States lost three free throws in the dying seconds to give France a small chance of a miraculous comeback, but the French lost some three open. A few free throws from Durant with 8.8 seconds left were the win.
The victory not only won the gold medal for the United States, but also demanded revenge for the loss in the group match that opened the Olympic game.
France overtook the Americans 83-76 in the preliminaries. This realisation led many to wonder if the United States would even win the medal, let alone gold. USA Basketball has answered these questions aloud.
Overall, the gold is the 19th medal won by Team USA in men’s basketball (16 gold, 1 silver, and two bronze). With the victory, the U.S. record in Olympic competition is 150-6, a .962 winning percentage.