Team USA turned to Kevin Durant with a gold medal on the line, and he delivered with relative ease.
What amounted to a two-possession victory did not always seem in hand, as a valiant effort from a French side destined for silver — led by Rudy Gobert, Nic Batum and Evan Fournier — gave Team USA a real test down to the wire.
But Kevin Durant proved too much, as he always tends to. The Slim Reaper, Durantula — whatever you want to call him — scored a casual 29 points to secure his third gold. KD now has point totals of 30, 30 and 29 in gold medal games. He’s the all-time leading scorer in USA Basketball history. There’s little more he can achieve at the international stage.
The big moment is small to those who perceive it as such, and from Durant’s 6-foot-9 frame, France appeared nothing more than a gnat in the way of greatness.
2021 Olympics: 3 decisive moments in Team USA’s gold medal game win over France
Team USA’s victory wasn’t always in hand, despite routine runs in the first and second half to push their advantage to double-digits. Late in the fourth quarter, however, they held on thanks to three plays in particular.
First, Jrue Holiday’s defense came up huge, just as it did in the NBA Finals.
One of the best on-ball defensive guards in the Association proved his worth on the world stage.
Second, Draymond Green’s intuition and basketball intelligence was as valuable as ever in the closing moments. With France at the line trying to cut into the Americans’ advantage, Green took advantage of FIBA’s rules, which allow a defender to interfere with the ball if it’s hanging on the rim.
That isn’t a goaltend in the international game.
Lastly, France got in its own way late. With a chance to make it a one-possession game with just under a minute remaining, Evan Fournier tried to play hero and failed miserably.
The bank was not open.
Frankly, France would’ve had to play the final possessions perfectly to come away victorious, and even that wasn’t guaranteed. With Damian Lillard and Durant in hand, the Americans had plenty of closers to take advantage of what became a wide-open affair late.
That’s five golds for Gregg Popovich, and yet another decisive display from the basketball capital of the world.
USA basketball gold medals
Team USA hoops has 16 gold medals after winning in Tokyo.