KEVIN DURANT LEADS USA TO OLYMPIC GOLD. Kevin Durant delivered another brilliant gold medal performance, leading the United States to an 87-82 victory over France in the Tokyo Olympics.

Durant ended with 29 points after scoring 30 points in the previous two gold-medal games in 2012 and 2016.

“It’s game time,” Durant added. “It’s only one game, and then you go home; there’s no series. I have to give it my best every second I’m out there, and I have to prepare properly. I have to get out there and believe that it will work. I was able to knock down some shots to keep us afloat a little bit. (Damian Lillard) took over for us in the fourth quarter, and people made plays at the end.”

Durant won his third gold medal in a row, leading the US in scoring throughout their championship campaigns in London in 2012 and Rio in 2016. He and Carmelo Anthony are the only men to have won three Olympic gold medals in basketball.

Earlier in the competition, Durant surpassed Anthony as the highest scorer in the United States. Men’s Olympic basketball history, amassing 435 points by the end of the gold medal game. Durant is the first player to score 100 points or more in three Olympics.

The United States had lost its Olympic opener against this same France team before completing the tournament with five straight victories to earn gold.

“We faced a lot of adversity,” Durant added. “We lost a competition game and two exhibition games. We had some odd situations with COVID, including players in the Finals arriving late, and we simply fought through it all. We spent two and a half weeks away from our family, almost in a bubble. It was definitely unusual, so I’m pleased we got the job done.”

Durant scored 12 points after one quarter and 21 points at halftime. The US trailed 12-6 early on, but Durant’s 3-pointer midway through the second quarter put them up 38-26 on their route to a 44-39 halftime advantage.

Team USA had its largest lead of the game with a 71-57 lead in the third quarter. It was up 82-72 with three minutes to go when France made a late run, finally ending with an 85-82 score with 10.2 seconds play.

Durant’s two free throws with 8.8 seconds remaining made it a two-possession game and put the game out of reach.

“It meant a lot, particularly against this team,” Durant said. “France is an excellent squad. They do not give up. They work hard every time they step on the court. A big team. So that was a fun challenge for us, but we still wanted them. We wanted to play them again, just as much as we wanted to play Australia again. We were able to complete this game. Everyone sacrificed from the start, putting the team first, and we were able to come out here and win the gold.”

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