Team USA Basketball is one win away from their fourth straight gold medal, using a dominant third quarter to easily top Australia, 97-78, in their Olympic semifinal matchup in Tokyo.
The Americans were down 15 at one point in the second quarter, but closed on a 16-4 run to trail by just three at the half, and they came out after the break and dominated – a 12-0 run to start the third (and a 20-0 overall run going back to them finishing the second with an 8-0 run) put Team USA up nine, and when the period was done, it was 32-10 in the quarter for a 74-55 USA lead after the third.
"There were a lot of guys on this team that had straight faces and were ready to play when we were down 15, strong faces is what Pop said," said Kevin Durant, who led the way with 23 points to pad his Team USA all-time record total. “They came out and hit us with a nice haymaker, and we were able to get back up and get that lead back."
Durant added a game-high nine boards, and Devin Booker dropped 20 for Team USA as well. Jrue Holiday narrowly missed a triple-double with 11 points, eight assists, and eight boards, and teammate Khris Middleton was also in double figures for 11.
Team Australia, which has seven players with NBA experience, was led by new Net Patty Mills, who scored a team-high 15 and added eight assists.
That was emotional for Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich, who had Mills in San Antonio for 10 seasons before the guard decided to join Brooklyn this week.
"I'm thrilled with the victory obviously, but when I looked him in the eyes, I felt badly, because they want it at bad as any of us,” Popovich said. “That was a little bit sad. But that's what we all do, we all try to win."