The United States team won its fourth straight gold medal at the Olympics with an 87-82 victory over France on Saturday in Tokyo. Kevin Durant was the top player on the floor in the victory, leading all scorers with 29 points, including a pair of decisive free throws with eight seconds remaining.
Jayson Tatum provided a huge boost for Team USA, scoring 19 points and adding seven rebounds while finishing with the team’s best plus-12 in 21 minutes. Evan Fournier scored a high of 19 points while Rudy Gobert scored 16 points.
The victory also allowed USA Basketball to avenge its loss to France in the Olympic group opener in Tokyo, but the gold was not won easily. The Americans scored just six points in the first four minutes, falling six points behind in the first quarter as the team missed their first eight attempts by 3 points.
The tide quickly changed in the second quarter with the Americans before taking control with a score of 35-16 to build a double-digit lead. Kevin Durant scored 21 points in the first half while Jayson Tatum added 11 points off the bench to help the Americans lead up to 13 points in the second quarter. France bounced back before the half-time intermission, closing the half with a 13-5 streak to reduce their deficit to five.
The Americans looked set to put the game aside in the third quarter, increasing their lead to 14 points after a 6-0 streak in the closing minutes of the period. However, France hit back with a pair of threes in the final 36 seconds of the period to keep them around.
USA Basketball appeared to be in control for most of the fourth quarter, building a nine-point lead with one minute remaining. However, a mix of turnovers and missed free throws allowed France to narrow the lead to three in the final 10 seconds before Durant’s free throws clinched the win.
With the victory, Durant joined Carmelo Anthony as the only man in American basketball history with three gold medals. It was the first gold medal for new American head coach Gregg Popovich. France matched their best Olympic performance in history with their first silver medal since losing to the United States in the gold medal match in 2000.