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US Men's Basketball Routs Czech Republic as Kevin Durant Makes History

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Kevin Durant Basketball Team USA
Kevin Durant Basketball Team USA
AFP via Getty Images

Kevin Durant broke one of Carmelo Anthony’s Team USA records on Saturday. But there’s another record Anthony holds that Durant might want even more.

Three gold medals.

Anthony, the only four-time Olympian in men’s basketball, holds the most Olympic gold medals in the sport with three. Sorry Melo, but Durant soon might be coming for that record also.

Durant, a two-time gold medal winner, scored 23 points to lead the United States to a 119-84 win over the Czech Republic to close out pool play and send the U.S. to the quarterfinals at the Tokyo Olympics.

Durant, participating in his third Olympic Games, entered Saturday’s game needing six points to surpass Anthony and his record of 336 points as the U.S. Men’s Basketball all-time leading scorer. After a slow start for the U.S., during which the team fell behind by 10 points in the first quarter, Durant hit a shot that not only gave Team USA its first lead of the game at 34-33 but also made him the team’s top scorer of all-time.

Durant’s record-breaking bucket came on a pull-up 3 with 6:19 remaining in the half that gave the U.S. a 34-33 lead. Durant followed with another 3 on the following possession as he began to put some distance between himself and Melo.

“There’s so many great players that played for this program that I never really thought about it,” Durant said during his postgame interview. “But playing in three Olympics, that’s a lot of games, and starting in a lot of these games too, so I put myself in a solid position.”

 

Durant had eight of his 13 first-half points in the second, including a fadeaway late in the quarter for a 47-40 lead. Blake Schilb, who had 14 first-half points, followed with his fourth 3 of the half just before the buzzer as Czech Republic went into the half trailing just 47-43.

The U.S. then pulled away in the third, and did so rather quickly.

Damian Lillard, after shooting just 1 of 7 in the first half, hit his first 3 of the third quarter to spark a 10-2 United States run that turned a one-possession game into a 60-49 advantage.

The U.S. continued to use its perimeter shooting to pull away with Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker each converting from deep for a 71-58 lead.

The U.S. ended the quarter on a 16-2 run, capped by a Durant 3 just before the buzzer. Durant scored 11 of his game-high 23 points in the third.

Missed shots for the U.S. in the second half were few and far between, as their lead reached more than 30 in the fourth quarter en route to a second straight lopsided win to finish pool play at 2-1.

Jayson Tatum scored 18 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter. He made 5 of 10 attempts from deep for the U.S., which combined to shoot 62 percent overall and go 20-for-42 on 3-point attempts (48 percent).

“Felt good just to see some shots go in,” Tatum said. “I think we’re playing better each and every game, and that’s what we expected, to be better than we were last game throughout this tournament. And any given night any guy on our team can do what I did tonight, and I think that’s what makes us dynamic.”

Durant, who said after the game that Tatum will be next to break the scoring record, had 23 points on 8-for-11 shooting and also added eight rebounds and six assists. That brings his Team USA scoring record total to 354 points (and counting).

Durant entered the Tokyo Olympics with Team USA’s highest cumulative scoring average at 19.4 points per (Anthony averaged 10.8 points over 31 Olympic games). His 19.5 points per game during the 2012 London Olympics remains a U.S. record for an individual competition.

He won gold during the 2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio Olympics. With the U.S. advancing to the knockout stage of the Tokyo Olympics, he is now three wins away from adding a third.

And from tying another of Carmelo Anthony’s records.

“So many great players, so many great coaches along the way,” Durant said. “And I’m happy I’m just a part of something special.”

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