After losing its last two meetings against France, the US men’s national team avoided three straight losses, claiming a fourth straight gold medal in the process.
Team USA ousts France, 87-82, in the gold-medal game from the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan.
In the process, Team USA became the first team to beat France in this year’s Olympics.
France did however capture its third silver medal but has still yet to claim a gold medal.
In addition, France had beaten the US to open pool play in Tokyo last month and again in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
If it wasn’t already, gold medal Kevin Durant is a real thing.
Durant scored 29 points, barely missing out on the chance to score 30 points the third straight gold medal game on 9-of-18 shooting.
He was held to 10 points in 20 minutes in the two teams’ first meeting to start pool play. Earlier this Olympics, Durant became the all-time leader in points for Team USA in his third Olympic games.
The United States missed its first eight three-point attempts before Durant made one with nearly two minutes left in the first quarter.
That was during a run where he scored 10 straight points for the USA.
In addition, he pushed the lead to nine after a completed and-one that featured a two-hand slam dunk on France’s Rudy Gobert.
Even with Durant’s explosion, France stayed steady throughout the contest.
A 13-point second quarter lead was cut to five by the French and again in the second half when a 14-point lead was cut to three.
In that third quarter, Durant scored five points during a 7-0 US run that got the lead back to double digits.
During this run in Tokyo, the US won every third quarter.
Even with that strong third quarter, Team USA held a three-point lead with just 10.2 seconds left in regulation.
The defense held Gobert to 16 points on 5-of-5 shooting but went 6-for-13 from the free throw line before fouling out.
Guard Evan Fournier was limited to 16 points on 5-of-15 from the field.
Another key factor was Team USA’s ability to take care of the basketball.
The US didn’t commit its first turnover until 3:35 left in the first half. By that time, France had been forced into eight of their own.
By the end of the game, France had committed 18 turnovers while Team USA was forced into nine on the other side.