Nothing has come easy for Team USA in Tokyo, but thanks to a bounce-back performance from Kevin Durant, the Americans are headed to next week’s Olympic quarterfinals after routing the Czech Republic 119-84 in Saturday’s Group A finale.
Not only did Durant (23 points on 8-of-11 shooting) enjoy his best game of the tournament Saturday, but he also made history, becoming the United States’ all-time leading scorer in Olympic play. Representing Team USA for the third time, the Brooklyn Nets forward now has 354 career points to his Olympic credit, 18 more than the previous record-holder, Carmelo Anthony. Durant accomplished his feat in 12 fewer games than Melo, who has suited up for Team USA a record 31 times over four Olympics (2004 in Athens, ’08 in Beijing, ’12 in London and ’16 in Rio).
After a sluggish showing in exhibition play (they went 2-2 in Las Vegas, losing to Nigeria and Australia with triumphs over Spain and Argentina), the U.S. fell to France in their Olympic opener last Sunday, but have righted the ship by rattling off consecutive wins over Iran and the Czech Republic, outscoring them by a combined 239-150.