Road To The Olympic Games

Basketball

U.S. hammers Serbia to win 3rd straight men's basketball gold

The United States won their third straight gold medal in men's Olympic basketball, hammering Serbia 96-66 in the final at the Rio Games on Sunday.

Durant scores 30, Anthony collects 4th medal

DeAndre Jordan of the United States dunks on Serbia during the men's gold medal game in Rio. (Elsa/GETTY IMAGES)

By Brian Mahoney, The Associated Press

The U.S. Olympic men's basketball team won its third straight gold medal and did it easily, beating Serbia 96-66 on Sunday.

After a few close calls earlier in the tournament, this was no contest. Kevin Durant scored 30 points and helped the Americans jump out to a huge lead by halftime.

It was the final game with the national team for Mike Krzyzewski, who took the Americans back to the top and leaves with them there after becoming the first coach to win three Olympic gold medals.

Carmelo Anthony also picked up his third gold to go with a bronze, becoming the most decorated male in Olympic basketball history.

Spain defeated Australia 89-88 earlier Sunday to take the bronze medal.

The U.S. beat Serbia by just 94-91 in pool play, holding on when Bogdan Bogdanovic missed a 3-pointer at buzzer. This rematch looked nothing like that meeting, but it did resemble the final of the 2014 Basketball World Cup, which the Americans won 129-92.

Anthony checked back into the rout in the final minutes so he could grab a seventh rebound, passing David Robinson for U.S. record with the 125th in his Olympic career. He had already become the leading scorer earlier in the tournament, capping an Olympic career that began with disappointment as a member of the U.S. team that finished third in 2004.

25-game winning streak

The Americans haven't lost since, winning 25 straight in the Olympics.

A few of the victories were more difficult than usual in this tournament, where half the Americans' eight games were decided by 10 points or fewer.

Krzyzewski said it didn't matter how the Americans won, that there would be no questions as long as they did.

And there was no doubt they would Sunday once Durant heated up.

He had also scored 30 in the 2012 gold-medal game, after he poured in a U.S.-record 38 in one game en route to the MVP of the 2010 world basketball championship. He is already the Americans' No. 2 career scorer in the Olympics in just two appearances.

When the final horn sounded, the U.S. players shared long hugs with each other and then Krzyzewski.

DeAndre Jordan went to the stands at Carioca Arena and collected an American flag, which he initially wrapped himself in like a blanket before holding it high over his head for all to see. After a slow start in Rio, there was no doubt about who was on top, and the Americans beamed as they walked off the floor before the medal ceremony where they will again be centre court.

That wasn't a sure thing earlier in the tournament, when the U.S. had consecutive three-point victories. The 10 Olympic newcomers seemed to be jelling slowly and the U.S. came in winning by just 21.4 points per game, more than 10 per game fewer than four years ago and about half the 43.8 the Dream Team won by in 1992.

Krzyzewski, an assistant on that team at the Barcelona Games, has long insisted that international basketball has gotten too strong for anyone to win that easily again. 

Yet on Sunday, the Americans did.  

With files from CBC Sports

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