Team USA topped a pesky Spain squad to win its second straight gold medal today, thanks to a brilliant performance from Kevin Durant and a few key plays by Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant.
The final score was tight—107-100. Spain played about as well as it could play in the first half, controlling the paint with its monstrous frontline of the Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka, and entering into the locker room at halftime down only one. You have to also think the Spainards would probably have even held the lead if not for Marc Gasol's (totally idiotic) four fouls in the first quarter. But no matter.
After the break, the U.S., and Durant especially, put on a show. The forward finished with 30 points (and the all-time most number of points scored in an Olympics), even with his 3-ball not falling as much as normal. He was helped by Paul, who finished with 11 points. Paul had two crucial plays late in the game, both of which extended the U.S. lead and gave the team needed offense at a time when Durant was briefly stymied by Spain's box-and-one and LeBron James sat on the bench in foul trouble. The point guard first hit a big three, following that up on the next series with a nifty layup after beating Sergio Rodriguez on the baseline. Bryant also provided a few key shots and finished with 17 on the day.
Watch ESPN's Jalen Rose break it down at more length here:
Paul's late three-pointer prompted this great celebratory jump by head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who finishes his career as Team USA coach with an astonishing 62-1 record. Even the most strident Duke haters out there have to respect that achievement.
Finally, the win also prompted this nice bit of candor from announcer Doug Collins, who said "Gold or bust, bitch!" live on-air after the win. (At least that's what it sounds like. Anyone think otherwise?)
It's going to suck not watching these guys play anymore. What an absolute blast it was the past two weeks to watch athletes who pull in millions and millions of dollars every year totally throw themselves into winning another gold medal for the U.S. Job well done, guys.