The job is done, the mission is accomplished. There was so much talk about where this current USA squad ranked, if it could beat the Dream Team and how good they really were.
All that mattered was if they could be one point better than Spain on Sunday. And they were, with six other points to spare.
It wasn’t easy for the United States as Spain was completely game, hitting big 3s, withstanding foul trouble and weathering U.S. runs. But as the game got close and LeBron went to the bench with four fouls, guess who stepped up.
Kevin Durant was urged to shoot by his teammates and coaches all tournament long. I guess he was saving it for the gold medal game. He took 18 attempts en route to a game-high 30, including a couple big time shots late in the fourth quarter to help seal the game. (I’d love to describe how one of them looked in the fourth quarter, but unfortunately NBC was busy with a commercial break mid-game.)
The game was tough and scrappy as Spain never would completely lay down. Pau Gasol was huge, Juan Carlos Navarro hit big shots all over and Team USA couldn’t ever put together a big knockout punch. They flopped, pushed and pulled. (It’s a good thing Rudy Fernandez is staying overseas in Euroleague. I might have had to walk onto the court and punch him in the face next season.) This U.S. team is terrific and they played a pretty good game, but Spain held tough.
In the end, too much KD, too much LeBron, too much Chris Paul. Too much everything. Team USA just had too much.
Three Thunder players bring home gold, giving Oklahoma City more golds than 59 other countries in the Olympics and as many as Spain and Brazil. (And with a silver on top of it.) This is cool too: KD scored more points in the Olympics than any other American player with 156, passing Spencer Haywood’s 1968 mark of 145.
As the game tightened in the second half, Coach K shortened his bench as Russell Westbrook didn’t play any, other than the last 30 seconds. James Harden entered with him and while the game was pretty much over, Harden had to knock down a couple of free throws to officially close the door. Westbrook finished with three points, Harden with two.
Serge Ibaka, who had seen his playing time significantly cut into, played a big role for Spain today as Marc Gasol inexplicably picked up four first half fouls. Ibaka finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, hitting 8-of-10 from the free throw line.