Rio De Janeiro - Led by 30 points and four assists from two-time Olympic gold medalist Kevin Durant and dominating on both ends of the court to outscore Serbia (4-4) 33-14 in the second quarter, the 2016 U.S. Olympic Menâ€™s Basketball Team (8-0) claimed a third straight Olympic gold medal on Sunday afternoon at Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro.
The USA now has a 25-game Olympic win streak and a 53-game win streak in major competition, including Olympic, FIBA World Cup and FIBA Americas games.
Spain (5-3) edged out Australia (5-3) 89-88 for the bronze medal.
â€śThis team kept getting better and even those three games in pool play, we had not played that type of game against that type of level,â€ť said USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski. â€śWe said it was a learning experience and our guys did learn. We put it to good practice. We kept getting better even though it didnâ€™t necessarily reflect in the differential in the score, but we were getting better and more knowledgeable. Thatâ€™s where I commend the leadership of our veterans for keeping us on course for that.â€ť
Rio De Janeiro - Leading by four-points at the end of the first quarter, the USA blew the game open in the second period. The Americans finished with a 54-33 rebounding advantage and got a 13-point, 15-rebound double-double from DeMarcus Cousins.
â€śIt was just an amazing time,â€ť Durant said. â€śWe got together July 17, and we all set our minds on wearing one of these gold medals. That was our main focus â€“ Carmelo (Anthony) being our leader and me kind of following up.â€ť
The game started off with four tied scores and five lead changes. The USA fell behind 14-11in the first quarter after Serbia made a free throw at 3:12, but the USA closed with a 7-1 stretch that included a 3 from Durant, and the USA headed into the second period with a 19-15 advantage.
Paul George started off the second quarter for the USA with a steal and slam dunk, which was followed by four free throws from Cousins, and the USA led 25-17 1:46 into the second. Serbia scored to end the streak, but the USA was not slowed. Durant went on to sink four 3-pointers to lead a U.S. charge that outscored Serbia 33-14 in the quarter to lead 52-29 at halftime.
â€śIt was tough,â€ť Cousins said of the tournament. â€śI think individually everybody hit some type of adversity. We found a way to overcome it. Thatâ€™s what itâ€™s about. Winning is not easy. We found a way to do it, and now we can celebrate as a team.â€ť
The U.S. defense in the second quarter held Serbia to 31.6 percent from the field (6-19), while it shot 55.6 percent (10-18). By halftime, the USA had a 31-16 rebounding advantage. Cousins already had 11 points and 12 rebounds and Durant had scored 24 points, including five 3-pointers.
Carmelo Anthony, the first four-time Olympian and first three-time Olympic gold medalist in U.S. menâ€™s basketball history, started off the second half with a 3-pointer and went on to score seven points in the quarter, while six other U.S. players added points to help the USA take a 79-43 lead into the fourth period.
â€śNothing was ever guaranteed, but I never second guessed the work we put in to get to this point,â€ť Anthony said. â€śI believed so much in the guy that is alongside me (Durant), the coaching staff, the guys that were with us day in and day out, putting us in a position to win another gold medal. I never doubted that. Of course, it wasnâ€™t as easy as we would have liked. This journey that we had here in Rio, starting in Vegas, you canâ€™t ask for nothing more than that.â€ť
Three times in the fourth quarter the USA pushed the margin to as many as 41 points, but Serbia outscored the USA 23-17 overall in the period to bring the game to its 96-66 final score
All 12 U.S. players scored, Klay Thompson added 12 points and Kyrie Irving dished out four assists.
The USA held Serbia to 38.2 percent from the field (26-68 FGs), turned 18 Serbian turnovers into 26 points and recorded 30 fast break points.
Overall in the tournament, the USA beat teams by an average of 22.5 points per game.
â€śItâ€™s extremely special,â€ť Thompson said. â€śWe had one mission. We sought out to get a gold, and we did it. Itâ€™s worth every minute of sacrificing your summer for it. It would be an honor to do it again, but itâ€™s something Iâ€™ll cherish for the rest of my life.â€ť
The USAâ€™s assistant coaches were Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Tom Thibodeau (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Monty Williams.