Led by 30 points and four assists from two-time Olympic gold medalist Kevin Durant and dominating on both ends of the court to outscore Serbia (4-4) 33-14 in the second quarter, the 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team (8-0) claimed a third straight Olympic gold medal on Sunday afternoon at Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro.
The USA now has a 25-game Olympic win streak and a 53-game win streak in major competition, including Olympic, FIBA World Cup and FIBA Americas games.
Spain (5-3) edged out Australia (5-3) 89-88 for the bronze medal.
“This team kept getting better and even those three games in pool play, we had not played that type of game against that type of level,” said USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “We said it was a learning experience and our guys did learn. We put it to good practice. We kept getting better even though it didn’t necessarily reflect in the differential in the score, but we were getting better and more knowledgeable. That’s where I commend the leadership of our veterans for keeping us on course for that.”
Leading by four-points at the end of the first quarter, the USA blew the game open in the second period. The Americans finished with a 54-33 rebounding advantage and got a 13-point, 15-rebound double-double fromDeMarcus Cousins.
“It was just an amazing time,” Durant said. “We got together July 17, and we all set our minds on wearing one of these gold medals. That was our main focus – Carmelo (Anthony) being our leader and me kind of following up.”
The game started off with four tied scores and five lead changes. The USA fell behind 14-11in the first quarter after Serbia made a free throw at 3:12, but the USA closed with a 7-1 stretch that included a 3 from Durant, and the USA headed into the second period with a 19-15 advantage.
Paul George started off the second quarter for the USA with a steal and slam dunk, which was followed by four free throws from Cousins, and the USA led 25-17 1:46 into the second. Serbia scored to end the streak, but the USA was not slowed. Durant went on to sink four 3-pointers to lead a U.S. charge that outscored Serbia 33-14 in the quarter to lead 52-29 at halftime.
“It was tough,” Cousins said of the tournament. “I think individually everybody hit some type of adversity. We found a way to overcome it. That’s what it’s about. Winning is not easy. We found a way to do it, and now we can celebrate as a team.”
The U.S. defense in the second quarter held Serbia to 31.6 percent from the field (6-19), while it shot 55.6 percent (10-18). By halftime, the USA had a 31-16 rebounding advantage. Cousins already had 11 points and 12 rebounds and Durant had scored 24 points, including five 3-pointers.
Carmelo Anthony, the first four-time Olympian and first three-time Olympic gold medalist in U.S. men’s basketball history, started off the second half with a 3-pointer and went on to score seven points in the quarter, while six other U.S. players added points to help the USA take a 79-43 lead into the fourth period.
“Nothing was ever guaranteed, but I never second guessed the work we put in to get to this point,” Anthony said. “I believed so much in the guy that is alongside me (Durant), the coaching staff, the guys that were with us day in and day out, putting us in a position to win another gold medal. I never doubted that. Of course, it wasn’t as easy as we would have liked. This journey that we had here in Rio, starting in Vegas, you can’t ask for nothing more than that.”
Three times in the fourth quarter the USA pushed the margin to as many as 41 points, but Serbia outscored the USA 23-17 overall in the period to bring the game to its 96-66 final score
All 12 U.S. players scored, Klay Thompson added 12 points and Kyrie Irving dished out four assists.
The USA held Serbia to 38.2 percent from the field (26-68 FGs), turned 18 Serbian turnovers into 26 points and recorded 30 fast break points.
Overall in the tournament, the USA beat teams by an average of 22.5 points per game.
“It’s extremely special,” Thompson said. “We had one mission. We sought out to get a gold, and we did it. It’s worth every minute of sacrificing your summer for it. It would be an honor to do it again, but it’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”
The USA’s assistant coaches were Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Tom Thibodeau (Minnesota Timberwolves) andMonty Williams.
In the U.S. men’s career Olympic record book, Anthony is No. 1 for: games played (31), points (336), field goals made (113), field goals attempted (248), rebounds (125), 3-point field goals attempted (139), free throws made (53) and free throws attempted (71). He is second in 3-point field goals made (57).
Durant is No. 1 in 3-point field goals made (59) and second in points (311), 3-point field goal attempts (108) and third in field goals made (101) and free throws attempted (59).
In the U.S. Olympic single competition record book: Durant is second to himself for points (155 in 2016 and 156 in 2012) and 3-point field goals made (25 in 2016 and 34 in 2012); while as a team the USA set records for free throws made (168), rebounds (364) and rebounds averaged (45.5).
Anthony is USA Basketball’s first men’s four-time Olympian, the first four-time medalist and the first men’s player to win three gold medals. Anthony, then just 20-years-old, played in his first Olympics and won a bronze medal in 2004. He returned to the Olympics in 2008 and 2012, and he now has helped the U.S. capture three straight gold medals.
Durant is one of 19 two-time Olympians and one of 17 to win two gold medals.
Irving and Thompson became two of the nine players who can boast of winning an Olympic Games gold medal, a FIBA World Championship and an NBA Championship. Including those two, the list features: Tyson Chandler, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson and Steve Smith.
The U.S., gold medalists in 15 of the 18 Olympics in which it has played, has a remarkable 138-5 win-loss record for a 96.5winning percentage. U.S. Olympic teams featuring NBA players currently are 53-3 and have won six of seven Olympic titles (1992, 1996, 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2016).
The USA has secured a 25-game Olympic winning streak dating back to the bronze medal game of the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Since the formation of USA Basketball’s National Team program in 2006 by Jerry Colangelo, USA National Teams have compiled a spectacular 88-1 record and claimed top honors in six of seven FIBA or FIBA Americas competitions.
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski owns an 88-1 all-time record as head coach of the USA Men’s National Team since 2006. Krzyzewski became the first coach in the history of international basketball to win back-to-back Olympic and FIBA World Cup titles.
Coach K is the first USA Basketball head coach to win three Olympic gold medals, and he and Henry Iba (1964, 1968 and 1972) are the only coaches to lead three straight U.S. Olympic teams.