The United States men’s team made it two Olympic gold medals in a row as they beat Spain 107-100 in the Final of the Olympic Basketball Tournament.
In a re-match of the 2008 Final from the Beijing Games, the USA pulled away in the fourth quarter thanks to big plays by star players Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Chris Paul.
Entering the final frame with an 83-82 lead, Paul scored five quick points and the Americans soon had a 90-84 cushion.
Marc Gasol cut it to 90-86 but then Durant buried his fifth three-pointer of the game and Bryant made a pair of free-throws before scoring inside off of an offensive rebound for a 97-87 advantage.
Spain got within 97-91 as Rudy Fernandez tipped in Sergio Llull’s miss on a fastbreak with 3:40 remaining, but James then had a thundering dunk and later knocked down a clutch three-pointer despite being closely guarded by Marc Gasol for 102-93 going into the final two minutes of the game.
Paul beat the shot clock inside the final minute to make it 104-93.
The Spaniards then played the clock, sending the Americans to the free-throw line, but the strategy didn’t work as they couldn’t make their own shots.
Durant finished with a game-high 30 points, James added 19, Bryant had 17 and Paul had 11.
Pau Gasol had 24 points for the two-time European champions Spain, while Juan Carlos Navarro added 21 and Marc Gasol had 17 despite limited minutes because of foul trouble.
The game got off to a fast and furious pace.
The World and Olympic champions USA raced out to a 35-27 first quarter lead thanks to some hot shooting as they hit seven of 10 three-point attempts in the period.
Bryant and Carmelo Anthony each made their two attempts from beyond the arc, Deron Williams hit his only try and Kevin Durant was two of five.
Navarro also had the touch from long range, hitting three three-pointers as Spain went up 12-7 three minutes into the game.
Bryant then hit his two three-pointers either side of Durant making a pair of free-throws after an unsportsmanlike foul on Jose Calderon and the Americans were up 15-12.
Later in the period, Anthony came off the bench and provided an offensive boost right away as the USA used a 7-0 run to pull away 25-16. They had their first double-digit lead, 35-25 when
Durant connected from the corner.
Spain finished with a highlight play as Sergio Rodriguez found Rudy Fernandez sprinting down the baseline for an alley-oop dunk.
The Spaniards got back into the game early in the second quarter as Fernandez buried a corner three-point, before Pau Gasol scored inside.
Sergio Rodriguez edged them in front, 39-37 when he buried a trey with 7:23 left in the half.
The Americans though were able to score inside and the Spaniards’ inability to box out allowed Kevin Love to grab offensive boards and he made four free-throws to put his team up 50-44.
Mike Krzyzewski’s charges were back up eight, 58-51, when Williams hit from downtown.
The European giants finished the half well with an 8-1 run. All eight points came at the free-throw line. The last two came in the dying seconds as Andre Iguodala committed an unsportsmanlike foul on Fernandez who made good on both attempts from the charity stripe to get Spain within 59-58 as the teams headed to the locker room.
Foul trouble was an issue for Spain as Marc Gasol picked up his third and fourth fouls seconds apart in the second quarter. For the USA, Anthony went into halftime with three fouls.
Pau Gasol carried Spain early in the third quarter, scoring the team’s first 11 points to keep the game close.
He converted a pair of three-point players, the second of which cut the deficit to 71-70 midway through the period.
Durant and Bryant took over the scoring duties for the USA as they went up 77-72 on a pair of free-throws by the latter.
Rodriguez and Serge Ibaka once again provided a huge lift as the guard got a steal and fastbreak lay-up to make it 80-76 and the big man then scored over Anthony to tie it at 80 with 1:54 left.
Durant hit a three-pointer and Ibaka scored once again as the USA went into the final quarter up 83-82.