Team USA Will Play for Gold with Win Over Aussies
SAITAMA, Japan -- When Team USA started feeling that historic heat, the creeping grip of an unshakable loss, it went to the men with the rings. Kevin Durant and Jrue Holiday, NBA champions, showed the kind of skill and poise that is absolutely vital in high-level basketball.
Durant and Holiday didn't just break Australia's spirit in the Olympic semifinals -- they lifted the entire U.S. men's basketball team up around them in a brilliant performance that led to a 97-78 victory. It means a berth in Saturday's gold-medal game as the Americans will go for their fourth in a row.
This game meant everything for the Boomers, who were in their fifth Olympic semifinals and looking for their first win. They have seven players with NBA experience, led by Patty Mills, one of the greatest scorers in Olympics history, playing in a game that would have earned them respect among their peers and their countrymen for the rest of their lives.
With the offense sputtering and the 3-point shooting -- the heart of Team USA's offense that was absent as they missed their first 10 3s -- totally failing, Durant put his head down and went to work. He ground his way to seven first-half baskets. Holiday was his partner, putting together six first-half assists while being the lead defender on Mills.
Mills, who had scored a combined 55 points in Australia's two recent wins over the U.S., ended up with 15, but most came after the game was already decided. Playing in his fourth Olympics, Mills made the decision this week to leave Popovich's San Antonio Spurs after 10 seasons.