SAITAMA, Japan — Team USA won its fourth straight gold medal in Olympic competition on Saturday, defeating France 87-82 in the final at the Tokyo Games to avenge a first-round loss.
Led by Kevin Durant, the all-time scorer in Olympics history, the Americans seemingly broke open a close game at the half and took control in the third quarter. Durant, who was held to 10 points the first time the two teams met -- an 83-76 victory for France -- scored 29 points in the gold medal game.
However, the French did not quit, whittling the Team USA lead to three points, 85-82, with 10.2 seconds to play. France was forced to foul with 8.8 seconds to go, and Durant drained both free throws to seal the game.
With the victory, the Americans secured their 16th gold medal in men’s basketball.
“It’s winning time. It’s one game or you go home. It’s no series,” Durant told NBC’s Maria Taylor during his postgame interview. “So I gotta give my all every second I’m out there. I prepare the right way, so I just gotta go out there and trust that work.”
France was trying to win its first gold medal in men’s basketball but instead wound up with its third silver. The French also took silver in 1948 and 2000, The New York Times reported.
Durant led four USA players in double figures. Jayson Tatum scored 19 points, while Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday had 11 points apiece,
Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier led France with 16 points apiece.
France had beaten Team USA in both the 2019 World Cup and two weeks ago to open the Olympics.
On Saturday, Team USA led 44-39 at the half thanks to Durant’s 21 points and took a double-digit lead with 4:23 left in the third quarter, but France narrowed the game to eight entering the fourth quarter.
France edged into the gold medal game with an 90-89 victory against Slovenia.
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