Kevin Durant delivered another classic gold medal game performance to lead the United States over France 87-82 and clinch the gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
Durant finished with 29 points after having put up 30-point games in each of the last two gold medal games, in 2012 and 2016.
“It’s winning time,” said Durant. “It’s one game where you go home, it’s no series. I’ve gotta give my all every second I’m out there and I prepare the right way. I’ve just gotta go out there and trust that work. I was able to knock down some shots to keep us afloat a little bit. In the fourth quarter (Damian Lillard) took over for us and guys made plays at the end.”
It was the third consecutive gold medal for Durant, who led the United States in scoring during their championship runs in London in 2012 and Rio in 2016. He matches Carmelo Anthony as the only men to win three Olympic basketball gold medals.
Earlier in this tournament, Durant also passed Anthony as the leading scorer in U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball history, extending his career total to 435 points by the end of the gold medal game. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Durant became the first player to score 100 or more points in three Olympics.
The U.S. had dropped its Olympic opener to this same France team before closing the tournament with five straight wins to clinch the gold.
“We went through some real adversity,” said Durant. “We lost a game in the tournament, we lost two exhibition games. We had some unusual circumstances with COVID, guys playing in the Finals, coming in late, and we just fought through everything. Two-and-a-half weeks away from our families basically in a bubble. It was definitely different, so I’m glad we finished the job.”
Durant had 12 points after the first quarter and 21 by halftime. The U.S. trailed 12-6 early on, but midway through the second quarter Durant’s 3-pointer put them up 38-26 on the way to a 44-39 halftime lead.
Team USA had its biggest lead with a 71-57 advantage in the third quarter and was up 82-72 with three minutes to go in the game before France made a late run, eventually closing with 85-82 with 10.2 seconds to play.
With 8.8 seconds remaining, two free throws from Durant made it a two-possession game and put the game in hand.
“It meant a lot especially playing against this team,” said Durant. “France is a good team. They don’t quit. They play hard every minute they’re on the floor. A big team. So it presented a nice challenge for us, but we wanted them again. We wanted to play them again just like we wanted Australia again. We were able to finish this game off. Everybody, they sacrificed from day one, put the team first, and we were able to come out here and get the gold.”