U.S. gets past Spain, faces Serbia for gold
RIO DE JANEIRO >> Gone was the all-offense, all-action play that turned the last two gold medal games into classics.
To get by Spain again, the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team would have to win ugly, so unusual it’s practically un-American.
“It was just a real different game today,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. Same result, though. The U.S. advanced to its third straight gold medal game with an 82-76 victory Friday, another tight matchup between the teams that met in the last two championship games.
Klay Thompson scored 22 points for the Americans, who will play Serbia on Sunday for their third consecutive Olympic title. Serbia beat Australia 87-61 in the second semifinal.
“This is where we wanted to be,” Kevin Durant said. “We talked about it all summer, and to be here for the final game, to win the gold, for all the marbles, we like our chances.”
THE AMERICANS pulled away to win 118-107 in 2008 and held on for a 107-100 victory in London, but the defenses made their mark in this one. The U.S. was just good enough again against Spain, with bodies falling more than shots and several technical fouls keeping the teams from finding an offensive flow.
It certainly wasn’t pretty, but Olympic gold never loses its luster.
“It’s an amazing feeling now,” center DeAndre Jordan said. “We really want to accomplish this.”
It was the lowest-scoring game for the Americans in the Olympics since the 2004 semifinals, when they managed 81 in a loss to Argentina.
But Jordan made his presence felt in the middle with 16 rebounds and four blocked shots to go with his nine points.
Durant added 14 points on the day he moved past LeBron James into second place on the U.S. Olympic career scoring list. Kyrie Irving had 13 for the U.S.
Pau Gasol scored 23 points for Spain, which made it tough on the Americans for the third straight Olympics, but again had to settle for coming close against the world’s No. 1 team.
“I think the key of the game was their defense,” Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said. “Their athleticism, their size, they made our offense get difficult during most of the possessions.”
SPAIN SHOT just 39 percent and couldn’t get any consistent option other than Gasol, who played with a wrap covering his sore right calf.
Both teams were called for multiple technical fouls in the tense first half. One of them, on Durant, gave him a third foul, as technicals also count as personal fouls in international play. Nikola Mirotic then picked up a personal and technical on the same play later in the period, sending him to the bench with four after he led Spain with 23 points in its quarterfinal rout of France.
The Americans were far off their usual offensive play, shooting only 42 percent for the game and complaining about a wet ball in the first half. But they grabbed 21 offensive rebounds in their 24th straight Olympic victory.
Now they need one more to stay on top.
“You want to get there,” twotime gold medalist Carmelo Anthony said. “You want to have that feeling.”
The United States’ Klay Thompson drove to the basket over Spain’s Pau Gasol in a men’s semifinal game on Friday.