Tokyo: The United States edged off France 87-82 on Saturday to successfully defend the Olympic gold medal of the men’s basketball tournament.
Thanks to Kevin Durant’s 29 points, the U.S. put back waves of comebacks of France when they led as many as 14 points, but let France close to three points a couple of times.
The U.S. trailed 12-6 at the beginning after missing the first eight 3-pointers, and Durant’s first 3-pointer tied it by 15-15.
Leading by 22-18 in the first quarter, the U.S. cruised to 39-26 and kept the advantage to a 44-39 first half.
Durant, who scored 21 points in the first half, put the U.S. ahead by 56-45 with a 3-pointer midway into the third quarter, and he waved and yelled after that shot.
France, which beat the U.S. 83-76 in the opener of the preliminary round, trailed by 14 points, but two consecutive 3-pointers, including a buzzer-beating one from Nicolas Batum cut the lead to 71-63 in the third quarter.
France narrowed the gap to 73-70, but a 9-2 run gave the U.S. a 10-point lead again. France came back again on 85-82 with 10.2 seconds left, before Durant made both free-throws for good.
Evan Fournier and Rudy Gobert scored 16 points each for France.