Team USA defeated Team France Saturday (August 7) to win its fourth straight gold medal in Olympic men’s basketball competition. The Americans, led by Kevin Durant, made up for their opening round loss to France by defeating the French 87-82 when it mattered most.
According to The Associated Press, Team USA held a players-only meeting after France snapped its 25-game win streak with a 83-76 victory over the U.S. in the opening game. The conversation at the meeting proved to be fruitful since Team USA didn’t lose another game on its way to its 16th gold medal in 19 Olympic appearances.
Durant scored a game-high 29 points and grabbed six rebounds as he joined Carmelo Anthony as the only three-time men’s gold medalists in Olympic basketball history. Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum added 19 points and seven rebounds while Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday finished with 11 points apiece.
France’s Evan Fournier, who finished with 16 points, hit a big three-pointer in the fourth quarter to cut the U.S. lead to six. Big shots in crunch time from Nandi DeColo and Frank Ntilikina helped the French get within three points of Team USA with 10 seconds left to go in the game. However, it was Durant’s two free throws with eight seconds to go that would seal the deal for Team USA.
“This is one of those special journeys,” Durant said. “When you’re a part of a team that’s evolving by the second, it’s amazing to see. Each game we continued to grow. I’m grateful we all committed to it, we stuck with it and we finished it off.”
Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich praised KD after the game for stepping up as a leader for this team. He called the 3x NBA champion’s love for the game infectious. “KD is not special because he’s so talented. The way he works on his game is more impressive,” Popovich said. “The relationship he builds with teammates, the respect he garners, the joy he has in playing, it’s like osmosis. It goes into all the players.”