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Dominant Kevin Durant leads USA to blowout win over Serbia for third straight gold medal

Basketball - Olympics: Day 16

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 21: Kevin Durant #5 of United States reacts after a play against Serbia during the Men’s Gold medal game on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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Nothing has come easy for the United States men’s basketball team during the Olympics, and for one quarter on Sunday, it looked like the gold medal game against Serbia would be no different. That is, until Kevin Durant decided to take over, and the U.S. cruised to a 96-66 victory to secure their third consecutive Olympic gold medal.

During an ugly first quarter, the Americans displayed many of the same tendencies that have haunted them over the last two weeks, namely a reliance on isolation play and lack of ball movement. The U.S. shot just 1-for-7 from three-point range and 35 percent from the field overall to scrap their way to a 19-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Durant took over in the second quarter, leading the charge in a dominant second quarter that saw the United States take a 52-29 lead into the half, with Durant finishing with 24 first-half points. A team-wide defensive effort led, as ever, by Paul George also contributed to the Americans blowing the game open. When they had to play ugly, they did, but unlike their three-point victory against Serbia during group play, this time they found enough offense to carry them to a stress-free victory.

Serbia never caught up after that second-quarter scoring onslaught, and the U.S. spent the second half on cruise control. For all the hand-wringing about this team’s flaws, and they were very real, it never ended up mattering much. The United States is still the world’s dominant basketball power, even with as many marquee names choosing to sit out this year’s Olympics. And they have three straight gold medals to show for it.