June 3, 2023

Team US has reached the semis of the basketball event in the ongoing Toyko Olympics thanks to Kevin Durant as he gave a spectacular performance with his shooting skills. Durant was unstoppable in the game and delivered excellent energy and mastery.

Durant’s shooting once again rescued the Americans Tuesday August 3 as they were able to beat Spain by a 10-point deficit (95-81) and advance to the semi-finals of the event, where they are expected to play Australia on Thursday.

“We’ve got to finish it,” Durant said. “We’re supposed to be here. For us it’s about getting the gold.”

Durant hit the basket with 29 points with 13 coming in at the 3rd phase of the game between Australia giving his team an upper hand to overpower his opponent. Durant has passed Anthony Caroline to become the leading scorer in men’s Olympics Basketball.

“We’re in a good spot right now,” Durant said. “Guys are starting to understand their roles and just getting comfortable within the team. In this setting, it’s always hard to get your footing as an individual player. You don’t want to step on toes.”

Durant’s abilities are the epitome of the strategy, as he made three triples in the third quarter while the Americans stuck with their improving ball movement that repeatedly was able to deliver their star open looks.

“He was who we need him to be,” said Draymond Green, who had 9 points, 5 assists and 3 steals in the win. “He showed he’s already the greatest player in the world, and we needed it.”

The Spanish have to be absolutely sick of Durant at this point: He dropped 30 on them in the gold-medal game in London in 2012, then had 14 points and eight rebounds in their semifinal matchup in 2016.

And Ricky Rubio has to be personally tired of everything red, white and blue. This loss marked the fourth straight Olympics he had to swallow a defeat against Team USA, dating to the 2008 gold-medal game in Beijing.

Rubio played as if he knew this might be one of his last chances against the Americans, displaying relentless aggression right out of the gate. He attacked and probed for shots all game, even against the stout defense of Jrue Holiday, and repeatedly got free to finish in the lane.

It was a masterful performance. Rubio finished with 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting, the most points ever against Team USA in the Olympics or any other major event. It broke Dirk Nowitzki’s mark of 34 points for Germany against the U.S. in the 2002 world championship.

The Spanish pounded the ball inside, which is standard for opponents now, as they scored 17 hoops in the paint and outrebounded the Americans by 10. It led to an early cushion for Spain, but it never felt as if it would last.

Team USA, led by more aggressive defense, finished the first half on a 14-4 run and then opened the second half 15-4 behind Durant to create separation. Jayson Tatum, who is developing into a weapon as a scorer off the bench, contributed 13 points and scored several key baskets in the fourth to keep the lead safe.

The win was a relief for Team USA after some players and coaches were up much of the previous night dealing with NBA free agency back home. Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs had more than $40 million in cap space and came to terms with several players during the day, the coach barely sleeping or eating. JaVale McGee, who didn’t play Tuesday, agreed to terms with the Phoenix Suns, and several other players saw their teams make major moves — including Zach LaVine’s Chicago Bulls trading for Lonzo Ball.

After the game, Spain center Marc Gasol put to rest speculation that he might retire and said he would return to the Los Angeles Lakers next season, his last under contract. But he did indicate that he would retire from international play. His brother, likely future Hall of Famer Pau Gasol, might have played his final game in the loss. Neither Gasol brother scored in the game.

Credit: ESPN

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.