USA Battles Spain for 107-100 Win to Capture Olympic Gold Medal
Caroline Williams, USA Basketball
London, England (August 12, 2012)
Kevin Durant's 30 Points Leads USA Balanced Scoring Attack
In a game that featured 16 lead changes and six tied scores, 30 points from Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) led a balanced attack that helped the U.S Olympic Men's Basketball Team (8-0) fight off Spain (5-3) for a 107-100 win to capture the Olympic gold medal on Sunday afternoon at the 2012 Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena in London, England.
In a rematch of the 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medal game, which also saw the USA defeat Spain, Durant grabbed nine rebounds and shot 5-of-13 from 3-point to set a U.S. Olympic single-game record for 3-pointers attempted. He also drew nine Spanish fouls to finish 9-of-10 from the free throw line.
"First off I would like to congratulate the great team from Spain for their magnificent performance," said USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University). "I would also like to congratulate Russia on the bronze medal. The tournament was spectacular and Great Britain was an amazing host for this tournament. We know that we won a great basketball game today. They were really good and I thought we were really good. And we had to be in order to win.
"Foul trouble hurt us, there size hurt us," Krzyzewski continued. "Our guys have come through all the time. Two of the guys who came through are sitting right here (Kevin Durant and Chris Paul). We got some defensive stops and hit some big shots. I really thought that an unsung hero of this game was Kevin Love, how he had to battle inside defensively because we had a big height disadvantage in there. He helped make a couple of stops for us down the stretch that were just huge. We are proud of the gold medal, very appreciative of the support we got here. It's a heck of a thing. I love the way my guys responded today."
Making 8-of-13 shots, LeBron James (Miami Heat) added 19 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out a team-high four assists; Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) added 17 points; and Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers) finished with 11 points and three steals. Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves) grabbed a team-high nine rebounds to go with nine points.
"They are a tough team," Durant said of Spain. "They made it tough for us all night. Fourth quarter, we were able to pull away, make some big shots. We have so many weapons on this team that can take over a game, but everybody chipped in tonight, and we got a really good win."
While Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks) and James earned a second gold medal in a third Olympic appearance; three more were members of the gold-medal winning team in 2008, including Bryant, Paul and Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets). Playing in their first Olympics were Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks), Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets), Durant, James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder), Andre Iguodala (Denver Nuggets), Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder).
"It was very emotional," Bryant said of his 2012 gold medal. "You just kind of think back on the journey, so to speak. Being here for your last go-round, wearing USA on your chest, it's very emotional."
Bryant found Chandler for the game's first score, however, Juan-Carlos Navarro sank his first of three 3-pointers in the first 3:15 of the game to give his side a 12-7 lead at 6:45. The USA put together eight quick points, including two 3-pointers from Bryant, to lead 15-12. After two threes from Anthony, the American advantage had stretched to nine points, 25-16 at 3:52. While the USA put up 10 points over the last 3:09, Spain added 11 points, including nine from the free throw line, and the U.S. led 35-27 at the first break.
With a 12-2 run to start the second period, Spain quickly erased the deficit and took a 39-37 lead with a 3-pointer from Sergio Rodriguez at 7:25. The lead changed hands four times before Krzyzewski called a timeout at 6:24 with the USA trailing 44-43. The pause in action seemed to work for the USA, which jumped ahead by six points, 50-44, after a 3-pointer from Durant and four straight free throws from Love that were earned by his work on the defensive boards. Both infractions were whistled on Spain's Marc Gasol, and he went to the bench with four fouls at 5:29 and was limited just 17 minutes overall.
Navarro ended the U.S. scoring streak after he collected a long rebound and connected from deep at 4:41 to bring the score to 50-47. The three was the start of a 14-9 Spain run that was helped along due to five fouls called on the USA that lead to nine made free throws for Spain. The last two Spanish free throws came with just 3.1 seconds remaining, and the teams headed to the halftime locker room with the USA leading 59-58.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy," James said. "We know Spain is a great team; they match up well with us, and we match up well with them. A lot of our games were the same in 08. We played them in that final and they gave us a great run. They tested us more than any team. We felt like that was going to happen again tonight. This is a great team and they wanted redemption. We are just happy that we were able to make enough plays, get enough defensive stops and come through for our team."
As the U.S. lead reached four points twice in the first 1:30 of the third quarter, Pau Gasol compiled 13 points on his own to put Spain ahead 71-70 with a three-point play at 5:02. Bryant and Durant led the USA back on top 77-72 at 3:34, but once again Spain responded. While Durant sank two more 3-pointers, Spain managed 10 points to head into the final stanza trailing by just one point, 83-82.
After a score from each team to start the fourth, Paul hit a three and drove in for two points to put the USA up 90-84 at 8:46. The six-point spread remained when Fernandez tipped in a rebound at 3:41, and Krzyzewski called a timeout at 3:20 after two U.S. turnovers. James slammed home an emphatic dunk, nailed a 3-pointer and then Paul scored a layup as the shot clock expired to counter a score from Spain, and the USA owned a 104-93 lead, its largest lead of the game, with 49 ticks remaining.
"I don't think worried is the right word," Paul said of the close score late in the game. "I think we were prepared and big thanks to Lithuania for that tough game that they gave us. At halftime before we ran out, what we talked about amongst ourselves was the reason we had been so successful is because of our defense; it wasn't because of the flurry of threes that we would make from game to game. It was because of our defense. As you saw late in the game, that's where we really broke away, we got stops, we got in transition and when you've got guys like Melo, KD, and Kobe trailing the play, that's the way we can find those open shots."
With the outcome secured, Krzyzewski subbed out Durant, James, Bryant, Love and Paul at 37 seconds and 19 seconds to cheers from the crowd, and the celebration began on the sideline.
Spain did not quit fighting, but came no closer than six points, 106-100, at 13.5 seconds. A free throw from Harden at 12.1 seconds brought the game to its 107-100 final score.
Pau Gasol led his side with 24 points and seven assists, and Navarro scored 21 points.
Earlier today, Russia (6-2) edged Argentina (4-4) 81-77 in the bronze medal game.
Durant finished the 2012 Olympics with 156 points to set the U.S. Olympic competition high for points scored, and his 34-of-65 shooting from 3-point set U.S. Olympic competition records for threes made and attempted.
As a team, the USA finished shooting 129-of-293 to set U.S. Olympic records for 3-pointers made, attempted, and for 3-point field goal percentage at 44.0 percent. Additionally, the U.S. grabbed 357 rebounds for an average of 44.6 rebounds per game to set two more USA competition team records.
"For us to persevere the way we did, it's a just a special moment for myself, for the guys that were on this team, for all the work that we put in and the commitment that we made to get where we are at right now," Anthony said.
Several U.S. Olympic career records were also established. James now is tied with David Robinson for most U.S. career Olympic games played at 24, and he is No. 1 with 273 points,113 field goals made and 88 career Olympic assists. Anthony lists first for career 3-point field goals made and attempted at 39-of-94.
Since Jerry Colangelo joined USA Basketball as managing director of the USA Men's National Team and selected Krzyzewski as the head coach, the USA is 62-1 in major international competitions, including gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, as well as the 2010 FIBA World Championship. With today's win, Krzyzewski became just the second coach in USA men's history to earn consecutive Olympic golds, the first being Henry Iba in 1964 and 1968.
Overall, the USA has won gold in 14 of the 17 Olympics in which it has played, compiling an remarkable 130-5 overall record.
This was no Dream Team. This was reality. The Americans led Spain by only one point after three quarters, a back-and-forth, impossible-to-turn-away-from game that almost anyone would hope for in an Olympic final.
US Wins Gold, Beats Spain 107-100 in Men's Hoops
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