The U.S. men’s basketball team won its fourth consecutive gold medal Saturday after narrowly defeating France 87-82, extending the Americans’ second-longest Olympic streak since 1968.
Kevin Durant dominated the court, scoring 29 points, with Tayson Tatum adding 19 and Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday each scoring 11. Durant now joins Carmelo Anthony as the only three-time men’s basketball gold medalists in Olympic history.
“Being part of the Olympics has been a dream,” head coach Gregg Popovich said.
France, which has lost all three of its gold medal matches to the U.S., started the first quarter off with an early lead but strong defensive play by the Americans slowly chipped away and the French never took the lead again.
Rocked early on by COVID absences, Team USA began in Tokyo on shaky ground, losing both of its exhibition games followed by a loss to France in the Olympic opener. After fighting their way through the group stage, the Americans gained momentum – with the 32-year-old Durant leading the way.
United States’ Kevin Durant (7) drives around France’s Rudy Gobert (27) during men’s basketball gold medal game at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, in Saitama, Japan. (Associated Press)
Saturday’s victory marked Team USA’s longest winning streak in men’s basketball in decades. They previously won gold in each of the program’s first seven tournaments from 1936 through 1968.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.