The United States clobbered Serbia 96-66 to win its third straight gold medal.
Team USA’s best player stepped up when they needed him most as Kevin Durant scored a game-high 30 points to go along with four assists, three rebounds, three steals and a block.
The United States looked sluggish in the first quarter and seemed plagued by the same issues that dogged the gold medal-favorites earlier in the tournament. Team USA began the game playing a lot isolation offense, and struggled to function as a unit on the offensive end. At the end of one, Serbia trailed by just four at the end of one quarter and looked like they may challenge the U.S. for gold.
But, Durant came alive in the second quarter. He outscored Serbia by himself in the quarter, 18-14. By halftime, the U.S. had extended their lead to 23 points.
With the win, Carmelo Anthony won his third Olympic title, setting the record for most Olympic gold medals won by a single player. Anthony tallied seven points, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal in the game.
Anthony, who set the record for the most points by a USA basketball player in the Olympics earlier in Rio, established the mark for most rebounds by a U.S. player in the final. With his seventh rebound in the game, he surpassed David Robinson with 125 boards in his career.
After the game, Anthony told NBC’s Rosalyn Gold-Onwude that the Rio tournament would be his last.
“I know this is the end, this is it for me,” Anthony said. “I committed to this in ’04. I’ve seen the worst and I’ve seen the best.”
The win was the last with Mike Krzyzewski as head coach. He took the reins in 2005 and helped to bring the United States back to the pinnacle of the international basketball world. The team only lost one game while he was on the bench, and went undefeated in Olympic play. He walks away with three gold medals.
The U.S. struggled earlier in the tournament, but has been dominant in the medal round, beating Argentina, Spain and now Serbia en route to the Olympic title. Much of the turnaround can be attributed to a renewed defensive effort – a hallmark of Coach K’s previous Olympic teams.
DeMarcus Cousins provided the U.S. a big spark off the bench. He scored 13 points to go along with 15 rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Serbia was on a run of impressive performances in their own right. They beat Australia and Croatia to make it to the Olympic final. In their first Olympic appearance in men’s basketball as an independent nation, Serbia comes away with the silver.
The Serbians were led Nemanja Nedovic, who came off the bench for 14 points, two assists, two steals and one rebound.
Durant scored also scored 30 points at the 2012 Olympics when the United States beat Spain for the gold medal in London. The total ties the record for most points by a player in the gold medal game, which he shares with Adrian Dantley.