Kevin Durant, Jrue Holiday led Team USA to victory over Australia in the Olympic men’s basketball gold-medal game. The Americans won 81-64 on Saturday night, securing their third consecutive title.
Team USA beat Australia to win the Olympic men’s basketball gold-medal game. Kevin Durant, Jrue Holiday led the way for Team USA with 22 points and 12 assists respectively.
SAITAMA, JAPAN – SAITAMA, JAPAN – It went to the guys with the rings as Team USA began to feel that historic heat, the creeping grip of an unbreakable defeat.
NBA champions Kevin Durant and Jrue Holiday demonstrated the type of talent and composure that is essential in high-level basketball.
In the Olympic semifinals, Durant and Holiday did more than shatter Australia’s spirit; they rallied the whole US men’s basketball team behind them in a spectacular performance that culminated to a 97-78 win. It means a spot in Saturday’s gold-medal game, when the Americans will attempt to win their fourth consecutive gold medal.
“When we were down 15 [points], there were a lot of players on our team who had straight faces and were ready to play,” Durant added, referring to a notion established by former USA coach Mike Krzyzewski and maintained by current coach Gregg Popovich about playing through adversity.
“They came out and gave us a big haymaker, but we were able to climb back up and reclaim the lead.”
Kevin Durant put his head down and got to work, helping the United States reverse the tide against Australia at the conclusion of the first half. Eric Gay/AP Photo
Australia had spent a long time preparing for this match and came out with a solid game plan, precise execution, and laser-like concentration. The Australians unveiled double teams and fast rotations that caught the Americans off guard.
For the Boomers, who were in their sixth Olympic semifinal and searching for their first victory, this game meant everything. They had seven NBA players, headed by Patty Mills, one of the best scorers in Olympic history, playing in a game that would win them respect from their colleagues and countrymen for the rest of their lives.
With it as a background, they played like it and steadily established a 15-point advantage in the first half. This was a defining moment for Team USA, which is prone to sloppy execution and bad shooting at the start of games.
Under these conditions, digging a hole was risky, but the Americans had Durant, who scored 23 points and wasn’t required in the fourth quarter, and the Aussies didn’t.
Durant put his head down and got to work with the offense sputtering and the 3-point shooting — the core of Team USA’s offense that was missing after they missed their first 10 3-point attempts — completely failing. He scored seven baskets in the first half. Holiday was his companion, combining for six first-half assists while serving as Mills’ primary defender.
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The US went on an 8-0 run to end the first half, as Australia’s advantage was reduced to just three points. This was a crucial time, particularly since the Americans have proven that they can play well in the third quarter.
“When you’re a good team and you’re facing a team that thinks it’ll be difficult to defeat us, they’ll come out and play their best brand of basketball,” Durant said. “They’re going to play flawless basketball, and I felt like that’s what they did in the first half, and I felt like we had the game in hand after we went up three at halftime.”
When the second half began, Durant and Holiday seized control of the game. Holiday, who finished with 11 points, scored two baskets off the bat, while Durant had three straight, two of which were 3-pointers. It was a 12-0 run that put the game out of reach at the conclusion of the second quarter, making it 20-0.
Strong defense led by Holiday and Durant, who challenged shots, and big players Bam Adebayo and Draymond Green, whose flexibility shone through, aided the team. After beginning the game with a 13-for-26 shooting percentage, the Australians seemed rattled by the Americans’ strong start and began missing shots, going 3-for-16.
Durant and Holiday’s self-assurance was contagious, especially to Devin Booker. Holiday began searching for Booker when the Aussies were eager to stop Durant. In a third-quarter kick that transformed the game into a blowout, he hit two 3-pointers and scored 10 of his 20 points.
“[Durant] has been in this position before, and he’s guiding us in the right direction,” Booker added. “He’s been a fantastic leader for us, and we thrive on his enthusiasm.”
Mills, who had combined for 55 points in Australia’s two previous victories over the United States, finished with 15, the majority of which came after the game had already been won. Mills, who is competing in his fourth Olympics, announced this week that he would depart Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs after ten seasons.
“Of course, I’m pleased with the win,” Popovich remarked, “but when I looked him in the eyes, I felt terrible.” “That was a little heartbreaking because they wanted it as much as any of us. But that’s what we’re all trying to do: we’re all trying to win.”
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