Nothing about the summer was easy for the U.S. men’s basketball team, and neither was the gold-medal game.
The Americans expected nothing less.
And in the end, their Olympic reign continues.
Kevin Durant scored 29 points and joined Carmelo Anthony as the only three-time men’s gold medalist in Olympic history. The U.S. held off France 87-82 on Saturday to win the title at the Tokyo Games — ending a summer that started with sputters but closed with celebration.
Durant sealed it with two free throws with 8.8 seconds left, making the outcome academic. The lead was five, France’s final possession was irrelevant, and it was over. The U.S. players gathered for a hug at midcourt, Durant, Bam Adebayo and Draymond Green wrapped themselves in American flags, and the journey was complete.
Jayson Tatum finished with 19 points, Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday each scored 11 for the U.S.
Evan Fournier and Rudy Gobert each scored 16 for France, which now has four silver medals — all coming after gold-medal-game losses to the U.S. Guerschon Yabusele scored 13, Nando de Colo had 12, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 11 for France.
Frank Ntilikina’s 3-pointer got France within 73-70 with 5:42 left, but the U.S. had a quick answer — a 9-2 run that restored a 10-point lead on Tatum’s 3-pointer.
From there, it was just a matter of finishing the job. The summer started with two exhibition losses, the Olympics started with a loss to France, and none of that seemed to matter much at the end.
The mission was accomplished: Gold, again — the 16th time in 19 Olympic tries for the U.S.
The U.S. missed its first eight 3-point tries before Durant got one to drop with 2:04 left in the opening quarter, starting what became a 21-8 run by the Americans on the way to a 39-26 lead midway through the second quarter.
France responded, closing the half on a 13-5 spurt and getting within 44-39 at the break, then within two early in the third quarter.
And after the U.S. briefly led by 14, Nicolas Batum — who saved his team with a last-second block to close out a win over Slovenia in the semifinals — beat the third-quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer that cut the U.S. lead to 71-63 entering the fourth.
- France beats Serbia to claim women's Olympic basketball bronze -
Forward Gabby Williams drilled 17 points with four assists as France swept past Serbia 91-76 to the women's Olympic basketball bronze medal on Saturday.
The 2012 runner-up took a narrow 43-40 lead into half-time off the back of a three-pointer from Marine Fauthoux before pulling clear. It stretched out a double-digit advantage heading into the final quarter and there was no way back for the European champion.
Victory was revenge for France, which was beaten 70-63 at the same stage in Rio five years ago to be denied a podium place. Six-time defending champion the United States will face host Japan for the gold medal on Sunday.
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