TOKYO – The United States men’s basketball team has done it again.
Despite all the obstacles of building a roster following a COVID-19 impacted NBA season, despite early struggles in exhibition games, despite even a rare loss in the group stage, the end result was the same as it’s been for the previous three Olympics: Gold.
Team USA finally did Saturday what it could not do when it played France nearly two weeks ago, closing out a 87-82 victory with some well-timed jumpers after France had cut the deficit to just three points with 5:40 left.
“We went through some real adversity. We just fought though everything,” Kevin Durant said. “It meant a lot. France is a good team, they don’t quit. They’re a big team. They presented a big challenge. But we wanted them again. We wanted to play them again.”
Unlike their first meeting, when France left the Americans shell-shocked after an 83-76 victory, the U.S. responded immediately as Damian Lillard made a pair of long 2-point jumpers and Jrue Holiday got a steal and a dunk to keep their team out of danger.
That sequence was pretty much the story of this one, as the U.S. held off one run after another France, which pulled within five at halftime and eight after three quarters. But the French were never able to build any sustained momentum largely because of Durant, who had 29 points to go along with the 30-points he scored in the gold medal games in both 2012 and 2016.
Kevin Durant (7) reacts in the second half of the gold-medal game against France at the Tokyo Olympics.
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His final two points at the foul line finished off the win after the French had closed it to within 85-82 with 10.2 seconds left. Durant also made 9-of-18 field goals.
The U.S. made just 8-of-29 threes in the gold medal game but forced France into 18 turnovers and were able to turn those into transition baskets that helped unlock their offense.
Afterward the team gleefully danced on the court in celebration, with Durant draped in a U.S. flag. The medal was the 100th for Team USA at the Tokyo Games.
“It’s an incredible feeling, something you always dream about,” said Jayson Tatum, who had 19 points. “I remember being in high school, watching these guys win a gold medal. And now I’m getting to be able to play alongside them.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USA basketball wins gold medal: US men topple France at Tokyo Olympics