Basketball·BASKETBALL ROUNDUP

Durant scores 29 as U.S. reaches men's Olympic basketball semis

Back and forth they went, the reigning Olympic champions from the U.S. on one side, the reigning Basketball World Cup champions from Spain on the other. The difference: The Americans had Kevin Durant.

Luka Doncic leads Slovenia past Germany to advance to semis

Kevin Durant of the United States goes up for a dunk against Spain during the Americans' 95-81 quarter-final victory at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday in Japan. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Back and forth they went, the reigning Olympic champions from the U.S. on one side, the reigning Basketball World Cup champions from Spain on the other.

The difference: The Americans had Kevin Durant.

He's never gone to the Olympics and not won gold — and clearly, doesn't plan on that changing. Durant scored 29 points to keep his quest for a third Olympic title alive, and the Americans are headed to the medal round after ousting Spain 95-81 on Tuesday in a quarter-final matchup at the Tokyo Games.

Jayson Tatum scored 13 and Jrue Holiday added 12 for the U.S., which will play either Australia or Argentina in the semifinals on Thursday. The Americans also gave themselves the chance of extending a streak like none other in Olympic basketball history — in all 18 of their previous Olympic men's basketball appearances, they've gone home with a medal.

Ricky Rubio was brilliant for Spain, scoring 38 points and Sergio Rodriguez added 16.

It wasn't easy, and rarely is against Spain. This was the fifth time the teams had met in the Olympic quarter-finals or later since 2004; the U.S. is now 5-0 in those games, but the margin of victory in those is a close-by-American-Olympic-standards: 9.2 points.

And this one was no different. Spain actually led by 10 in the second quarter, before the U.S. went on what became a 36-10 run over the next nine minutes to take control for good.

Spain had won three consecutive Olympic medals, taking silvers after losing to the U.S. in the gold-medal games in 2008 and 2012, followed by a bronze in 2016 after falling to the U.S. in the semifinals. And this may be the last time that the Spanish roster has some of its longtime mainstays; Pau Gasol is 41, other top players like Marc Gasol and Rudy Fernandez are much closer to the end than the beginning, and this might have been Spain's best chance to beat the U.S. at the Olympics.

Spain got down seven early, then simply did whatever it wanted against the U.S. for a 10-minute stretch of the first half. It was a 29-12 run by the time it was over, a burst that turned a 17-10 early deficit into a 39-29 lead with 3:25 left until halftime.

Spain shot 13 for 22 during that stretch, the U.S. just 5 for 22 — missing 12 of its last 13 shots in te run. But just when it looked like the Americans were in big trouble, it was their turn to rally.

A 14-4 U.S. run to close the half made it a 43-43 game at intermission, the burst capped by seven consecutive points over the final 70 seconds. And with that, it was a 20-minute game to decide who would play for medals and who would be going home earlier than planned.

The Americans didn't trail again.

They opened the second half on a 15-4 run — making it a 22-4 run going back to late in the second quarter — and went on to lead by as many as 16 before taking a 69-63 edge into the fourth.

Slovenia beats Germany

Luka Doncic and Slovenia need one win for a medal in their Olympic basketball debut.

Wins are all Doncic ever gets when he wears his country's uniform.

Doncic had 20 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, and Slovenia beat Germany 94-70 on Tuesday in the opening game of the men's quarter-finals.

Zoran Dragic got Slovenia off to a fast start by making his first six shots and finished 11 for 13 en route to his 27 points.

Doncic wasn't sharp early in the 10 a.m. local start but picked it up in the second half with his scoring and play making to keep Germany from making any serious dent in Slovenia's lead.

The Slovenians will face either unbeaten France or Italy on Thursday in the semifinals.

They are 17-0 in competition with Doncic, now looking to add Olympic gold to the European championship they won in 2017.

Slovenia won its group by outlasting world champion Spain 95-87 on Sunday to earn one of the top seeds, avoiding having to play the U.S., France or Australia until the semis.

But Germany was tough enough for a while, climbing back into it after Slovenia's fast start, before Doncic and his teammates pulled away for good early in the second half.

Maodo Lo scored 11 points as Germany wrapped up its first Olympic appearance since 2008, when it was led by Dirk Nowitzki, Doncic's teammate his rookie season in Dallas.

Doncic nearly records 1st Olympic triple-double since 2012

Doncic was the leading scorer in the tournament with 28.3 points per game through the group stage. For the second straight game, he finished just shy of the first triple-double in the Olympics since LeBron James for the U.S. in 2012.

Both teams capitalized on last chances to qualify for the Olympics by winning two of the four qualifying tournaments that were held last month.

Slovenia has much bigger goals than just getting here.

Slovenia shot out to a 23-12 lead by making nine of its first 12 shots, with Dragic going 4 for 4. It was 25-14 after one, but Lo made three 3-pointers in a little over a minute midway through the second as Germany rallied to take a 32-31 edge.

Slovenia quickly regained the lead and took a 44-37 lead to the locker room when Dragic made a 3-pointer for the final basket of the half.

Dragic made another 3 to open the second half and pushed the lead back into double digits and it wasn't close again.

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