Kevin Durant Leads USA Into Gold Medal Game
Durant scores 23 points in 97-78 win over Australia
Kevin Durant and the United States Olympic Men’s Basketball Team are headed back to the gold medal game.
Durant scored 23 points on 10-of-19 shooting with nine rebounds as Team USA defeated Australia 97-78 in the semifinals on Thursday. Durant had scored 29 points one game earlier in the quarterfinal win over Spain.
“He's been in the situation before, and he's leading us as such,” said Devin Booker of Durant. “So, I think these games are real meaningful to him and our whole team. So, he has been a great leader for us. We feed off what he does, and we feed off his energy. So, like you said, he didn't have to be here. He's done what he's done in the Olympic Games in the past, but for him to solidify himself and come here and be a leader, we feed off that energy.”
The U.S. trailed by 15 points midway through the second quarter but dominated the next 15 minutes of action to lock down its berth in the gold medal game. First came a 16-4 run to close the first half and get back within three points at halftime. Just as in the quarterfinal win over Spain, the U.S. dominated the third quarter. Again, Durant hit two quick threes early in the half. Team USA went on to outscore Australia 32-10 in the third quarter, making it a 48-14 run going back to when they trailed by 15 midway through the second quarter.
“We know teams are going to come out fast and hit us with a nice punch,” said Durant. “We know that teams want to get us down early and see how we respond. A lot of these guys got continuity for years and years, so they know how to play with each other. I feel like a lot of teams are expecting us to fold early. So, we stuck with it, stuck with our principles, made a couple scheme switches on defense, and we were able to get some momentum going to the half. Guys came out with that intensity, we made shots as well. So, I feel like everything aligned for us in that second half, and that’s who we are.”
Durant, who became the leading scorer in U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball history earlier in the tournament in the final pool play game, passed the 400-point mark and now has 406 career points in Olympic action.
The U.S. will play France for the gold medal on Friday at 10:30 p.m. Team USA lost its Olympic opener to France, 83-76. Durant, the leading scorer for Team USA’s gold medal squads in London and Rio, can join Carmelo Anthony as the second man to win three Olympic basketball gold medals. Durant scored 30 points in each of the last two gold medal games.
“It’s a different experience, different teammates,” said Durant. “But the journey has been fun so far, and we are looking forward to this opportunity. It’s rare that guys come in and do it four straight times, especially after 2004, I think. It’s a tough run for us, and for us to be back is exciting. So, we are looking forward to seeing who we play first off and going out there and trying to finish.”
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