The Standard Journal

Kevin Durant guides Team USA to basketball gold

- BASKETBALL

Kevin Durant recorded 29 points and six rebounds and the United States claimed its fourth straight Olympic gold medal with an 87-82 victory over France on Saturday at Saitama, Japan.

Jayson Tatum added 19 points and seven rebounds off the bench as the United States avenged a loss to France in pool play. The U.S. has won 16 gold medals in its 19 Olympic appearance­s.

“We went through some real adversity,” said Durant after winning his third Olympic gold medal, also succeeding in 2012 and 2016. “We lost a game in the tournament, we lost two exhibition games. We had some unusual circumstan­ces with COVID, with guys playing in the Finals and coming in late. We fought through everything.

“It was definitely different so I’m glad we finished the job.”

Rudy Gobert notched 16 points and eight rebounds and Evan Fournier also scored 16 for France, which won the silver medal for the third time. France lost in the goldmedal game in 1948 and 2000, with both setbacks also against the U.S.

The French team has never won gold in men’s basketball.

Guerschon Yabusele had 13 points, Nando de Colo added 12 points and seven assists and Timothe LuwawuCaba­rrot tallied 11 points for France, which connected on 46.6% of its field-goal attempts and made 10 of 31 (32.3%) from 3-point range.

Jrue Holiday and Damian Lillard scored 11 points apiece for the U.S., which shot 45.7% from the field and was 9 of 32 (28.1%) from behind the arc.

“This is what we came for — it was win or go home,” Tatum said. “It was for all the marbles so everyone had to do what it took.”

Durant scored just 10 points when the U.S. lost 83-76 to France on July 25.

He helped put this game away by making two free throws with 8.8 seconds left to give the U.S. the fivepoint lead. Nicolas Batum missed a 3-point attempt for France, Holiday grabbed the rebound and the Americans ran out the clock.

Earlier in the final stanza, Frank Ntilikina drained a 3-pointer to cap a 7-0 burst as France pulled within 7370 with 5:44 left.

The United States answered with a 9-2 run, and Tatum finished it with a 3-pointer to make it a 10-point margin with 3:25 remaining.

France made another charge as Fournier buried a 3-pointer to cut the U.S. lead to 84-78 with 1:10 left. That began a 7-1 run that saw de Colo make two free throws with 10.2 seconds left to pull France within 85-82.

France was within two early in the third quarter before the U.S. scored 10 of the next 11 points. Durant made a 3-pointer to cap the burst and make it 56-45 with 6:28 left.

Later in the stanza, the United States’ Zach La Vine scored back-to-back baskets and Tatum followed with a fastbreak dunk to make it 71-57. But Luwawu-Cabarrot and Batum each hit 3-pointers to pull France within eight entering the final stanza.

Durant (21) and Tatum (11) combined for 32 firsthalf points as the U.S. led 4439 at the break.

The U.S. held a 39-26 lead just past the midway point of the second quarter before France cut the deficit to five going into the break.

 ?? Geoff Burke-uSa Today Sports ?? United States forward Kevin Durant celebrates winning the gold medal against France in the men’s basketball gold medal game during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Saitama Super Arena on Saturday.
Geoff Burke-uSa Today Sports United States forward Kevin Durant celebrates winning the gold medal against France in the men’s basketball gold medal game during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Saitama Super Arena on Saturday.

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