Highlights From U.S. Men’s Basketball Win Over France – The New York Times - Techy Hunters

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Highlights From U.S. Men’s Basketball Win Over France – The New York Times



Aug. 7, 2021, 12:23 a.m. ET

Aug. 7, 2021, 12:23 a.m. ET

The U.S. team celebrated its victory on the court after clinching its fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

SAITAMA, Japan — It was not always pretty, but in the end, the United States men’s basketball team ascended to the heights they were always expected to reach. Overcoming a slow start to the Olympic tournament, the Americans dispatched France, 87-82, with relative comfort in the final game on Saturday morning at Saitama Super Arena to win their 16th gold medal in the event.

In front of a sizable crowd — not of fans, but of national team staff, Olympic volunteers and journalists — the United States looked far more cohesive and confident than when they lost to France in the opening game of competition.

That contest had exposed some of their early issues as a team — namely, a lack of familiarity as a group. But they had none of those problems on Saturday morning.

“It’s more joy than relief, but definitely some relief because of the expectation that gets placed on Team U.S.A.,” said Damian Lillard, who finished with 11 points and three assists and had some timely highlights in the second half. He added: “Finally getting there, pulling the gold medal game out, its like, you almost kind of exhale.”

Kevin Durant, once again, was the focal point and main driving force of the team, scoring 29 points to go with six rebounds. Jayson Tatum contributed a strong performance of his own, finishing with 19 points.

“He’s the best scorer in basketball,” said Rudy Gobert, who had 16 points and eight rebounds for France before fouling out in the last moments of the game while trying to stop Durant. “He’s going to do what he does, especially on the biggest stage like the Olympic Games.”

The Americans built an 8-point lead heading into the final quarter and withstood a number of runs from the French to close the game. France cut the lead to 85-82 with 10.2 seconds remaining, giving them a glimmer of hope. But Durant sank two free throws to effectively seal the result.

“That was the first time we really played together,” said Jrue Holiday, who won an N.B.A. championship with the Milwaukee Bucks before joining the U.S. team in Tokyo. Of France, he added: “Being able to meet them again, to meet them in the gold medal game, was great for us.”



Aug. 7, 2021, 12:09 a.m. ET

Aug. 7, 2021, 12:09 a.m. ET

The international reporters openly cheering for France next to me are now banging the table in excitement and frustration. These are tough conditions for blogging. But it’s that type of game. France had cut the lead to 3, but the Americans responded with three quick baskets to push the lead back to 9.



Aug. 7, 2021, 12:11 a.m. ET

Aug. 7, 2021, 12:11 a.m. ET

To be fair, they’ve barely touched their keyboards. But hey, glad they’re enjoying! (And there’s another table bang for a missed Gobert free throw.)



Aug. 7, 2021, 12:06 a.m. ET

Aug. 7, 2021, 12:06 a.m. ET

The United States calls timeout with about three and a half minutes gone in the fourth quarter. It’s been a scrappy period so far. Both teams are fighting tooth and nail. The key for the Americans will be withstanding an inevitable run from France, who look determined to make this a game.



Aug. 6, 2021, 11:58 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 11:58 p.m. ET

Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

The United States flies out to a strong start in the second half, building their lead to 71-63 with a quarter left to play in the gold medal game.

Whenever France made a move, the Americans were there to counterpunch.

France called a timeout with about four minutes gone in the quarter after falling behind by 11. Kevin Durant hit a 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of Rudy Gobert, and he skipped happily to the sideline as the teams returned to their benches.

Damian Lillard made himself a factor, wreaking some havoc with his dribbling and passing and scoring a couple of big 3-pointers early in the quarter.

France had to call another timeout with about a minute left when the Americans, who had been active and tenacious on defense, caused a turnover and released Jayson Tatum for a big, breakaway dunk that stretched their lead to 14.

Nicolas Batum hit an important corner 3-pointer to cut the Americans’ lead to 8 before the buzzer sounded to end the quarter.



Aug. 6, 2021, 11:53 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 11:53 p.m. ET

America continues to be good at basketball! Jayson Tatum flies down the floor for an easy dunk, and France takes a timeout to gather themselves. The Americans have stretched their lead to 14 with about a minute left in the third quarter.



Aug. 6, 2021, 11:51 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 11:51 p.m. ET

Compared with the N.B.A., these games just fly by. The Americans are finding a lot of flow on both ends of the floor. Lillard has made himself a factor this quarter, playmaking and hitting a couple of big 3-pointers.



Aug. 6, 2021, 11:44 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 11:44 p.m. ET

France calls a timeout, as the U.S. surges to a 56-45 lead. They had to talk things over after Kevin Durant nailed a pull-up 3-pointer with the big hand of Rudy Gobert in his face. Even the international reporters next to me openly rooting for France seemed enthralled by Durant’s play.



Aug. 6, 2021, 11:46 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 11:46 p.m. ET

Every time the French players seem to make a push, Durant has been right there to remind them who’s in control.



Aug. 6, 2021, 11:28 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 11:28 p.m. ET

In what might be the biggest breaking news of the Olympic basketball tournaments, a robot that shoots baskets for halftime entertainment actually MISSED a 3-pointer, much to the surprise of the crowd here. But just when you think there’s hope for humanity, the robot swished a halfcourt shot like it was an easy free throw.



Aug. 6, 2021, 11:23 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 11:23 p.m. ET

Kevin Durant, wearing No. 7, and Jayson Tatum, wearing No. 10, have carried the Americans in the first half against France.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

It goes without saying, but having Kevin Durant on your team is a very nice luxury.

His 21-point performance in the first half has pushed the United States to a 44-39 lead over France in the gold medal men’s basketball game.

Jayson Tatum took control of the Americans’ offense for a spell while Durant took a rest early in the quarter. When Durant returned, the two of them essentially took turns finding their shots.

Tatum finished the half with 11 points, making five of his nine shots from the field. Khris Middleton was the only other American player with a field goal in the quarter.

France took a timeout with about six and a half minutes remaining to try to sort themselves out. But it didn’t help much. Durant finished a two-handed dunk on the ensuing American possession, as the Americans kept attacking the rim.

What helped the most, though, might have been the way the United States tightened up on defense, swarming everywhere, getting their hands on everything. France, in response, struggled to find ways to the basket. They trailed by as many as 13 points, but edged back late to cut the lead before the buzzer.

Rudy Gobert leads France with 13 points to go with 11 rebounds.



Aug. 6, 2021, 11:22 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 11:22 p.m. ET

France trailed by as many as 13 midway through the second quarter, but they inched their way back and chopped the lead somewhat before the halftime intermission. The Americans lead by 5.



Aug. 6, 2021, 11:04 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 11:04 p.m. ET

Kevin Durant already has 18 points for the U.S. team. Brooklyn Nets fans love to see it.



Aug. 6, 2021, 11:00 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 11:00 p.m. ET

Frances takes a timeout with 6:26 left in the first half. The Americans look tighter and more aggressive on defense this quarter, and France is struggling to find ways to the basket. Kevin Durant returned to the court after a quick rest and will see if he can give the Americans some momentum heading into halftime.



Aug. 6, 2021, 10:53 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 10:53 p.m. ET

Jayson Tatum opens the second quarter with a turnaround jumper for the United States. He’s been their second leading scorer at these Olympics, averaging 14.4 points per game.



Aug. 6, 2021, 10:51 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 10:51 p.m. ET

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The United States men’s basketball team has inched to a 22-18 lead, overcoming a stuttering start, in the first quarter of this gold medal game against France.

Slow starts have been fairly typical for the United States at these Olympics, so maybe there is nothing for the Americans to worry about.

But France has shown glimpses of some of the problems they can pose in this game. Rudy Gobert and Guerschon Yabusele had one big dunk apiece in the opening moments of the game. Evan Fournier hit a 3-pointer to give France a 10-4 lead, forcing Gregg Popovich to call a timeout with 5:28 left in the quarter.

The Americans, meanwhile, missed nine of their first 11 shots. But Kevin Durant tied the game, 15-15, with a 3-pointer with around two minutes left in the quarter. Then, with 1:26 left, he was fouled while shooting from behind the arc, and made all three of his three throws, giving the Americans their first lead, 18-15.



Aug. 6, 2021, 10:43 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 10:43 p.m. ET

Pumping noise into an arena is far from a new trend during the pandemic, but the ambience during this game has the weird feel of a busy mall, train station or restaurant — not a sports crowd. Andrew wrote about this last week because the sounds throughout these Olympics have been quite unusual.



Aug. 6, 2021, 10:38 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 10:38 p.m. ET

France, as expected, is trying to establish a presence inside with their superior size. Gobert and Yabusele have one big dunk apiece already as France has built an early advantage. The Americans are misfiring early, an Olympic trend for them, hitting just two of their first nine shots.



Aug. 6, 2021, 10:31 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 10:31 p.m. ET

All the excitement and anticipating leads to … a shot clock violation for France in their first possession.



Aug. 6, 2021, 10:30 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 10:30 p.m. ET

They’ve played the anthems, and now they’re announcing the starting lineups.

France: Evan Fournier, Nando de Colo, Guerschon Yabusele, Nicolas Batum and Rudy Gobert.

United States: Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday, Bam Adebayo, Kevin Durant.



Aug. 6, 2021, 10:26 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 10:26 p.m. ET

The press seating areas are really packed as we get ready for tip-off. Basketball sometimes felt like it was happening off in its own world, out here in Saitama, separate from the rest of the Games. But the interest feels big for this gold medal game.



Aug. 6, 2021, 10:12 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 10:12 p.m. ET

The Americans warmed up before the game.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The United States and France play at Saitama Super Arena at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Tokyo, which is 13 hours ahead of Eastern time.

WATCH LIVE: The gold medal game will be on NBC on Friday at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time. The bronze medal game will be on the USA Network at 7 a.m. Saturday.

REPLAY: In the United States, you can stream the competition via NBC’s Olympics site, its Peacock streaming service or the NBC Sports app.



Aug. 6, 2021, 9:56 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 9:56 p.m. ET

The players just finished their initial light warmups and spent most of the time shooting jumpers.



Aug. 6, 2021, 9:53 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 9:53 p.m. ET

Credit…Sergio Perez/Reuters

Australia arrives in the third-place match after losing, 97-78, to the United States in the semifinals. Slovenia topped Germany, 94-70, in the quarterfinal round, before falling in a heartbreaker to France.

The main attraction for casual fans will be the chance to watch Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks star, get back to work in what has been a scintillating Olympic debut. He recorded only the third Olympic triple-double ever — and the first since LeBron James in 2012 — with a 16-point, 10-rebound, 18-assist performance against France.

And Doncic’s 48 points in Slovenia’s group stage game against Argentina is tied for the second-highest total in Olympic history. (Oscar Schmidt of Brazil scored 55 in a game in 1988.)

Their game is scheduled for Saturday night at 8 p.m. Tokyo time in Saitama Super Arena.



Aug. 6, 2021, 9:29 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 9:29 p.m. ET

The French team beat the Americans in their opening game at the Tokyo Olympics.
Credit…Alexandra Garcia/The New York Times

The French team — whose best men’s basketball results are silver medals in 1948 and 2000 — narrowly slipped into the championship game with a 90-89 win over Slovenia, needing a last-second block from Nicolas Batum on Klemen Prepelic’s layup attempt to seal the result.

Rudy Gobert, the 7-foot-1 center, has been a vital presence for France in the paint. He finished with nine points, 16 rebounds and four blocks in the game against Slovenia, and the French will certainly look to establish his presence early and often in the title game.

Evan Fournier, who signed with the Knicks this week, exploded for 28 points against the United States in the teams’ first meeting. The American players afterward praised the French team’s execution on offense, which comes in part as a result of many years of continuity in the program. In some sense, the game pits the well-drilled French against the supremely talented Americans.



Aug. 6, 2021, 8:32 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 8:32 p.m. ET

Zach LaVine dunked against Spain on Tuesday.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

TOKYO — The men’s basketball tournament at the Tokyo Olympics comes to a close on Saturday with a gold medal game between the United States and France in the morning (Friday night in the United States) and a third-place matchup between Australia and Slovenia later in the day.

Men’s Basketball Gold Medal  ›

  • ITA flag

    Italy

    75

    FRA flag

    France

    84

  • SLO flag

    Slovenia

    94

    GER flag

    Germany

    70

  • ESP flag

    Spain

    81

    USA flag

    United States

    95

  • AUS flag

    Australia

    97

    ARG flag

    Argentina

    59

  • FRA flag

    France

    90

    SLO flag

    Slovenia

    89

  • USA flag

    United States

    97

    AUS flag

    Australia

    78

  • FRA flag

    France

    82

    USA flag

    United States

    87

  • Bronze

    SLO flag

    Slovenia

    93

    AUS flag

    Australia

    107

The Americans, who have won three straight gold medals in the event dating back to 2008, dropped their tournament opener to France, raising questions about the team’s preparedness for these Games. It did not help they had multiple shaky showings, including two losses, in a run of warm-up games before traveling to Tokyo.

But they have improved in every game since. The question is whether they have improved enough, in this short amount of time, to secure the championship.



Aug. 6, 2021, 8:32 p.m. ET

Aug. 6, 2021, 8:32 p.m. ET

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Despite their loss in the opener, the Americans are still favored to win their 16th gold medal in men’s basketball.

A big part of their recent surge in confidence has been the play of Kevin Durant, who became the country’s career leading scorer in Olympic play during the tournament and has looked dominant in the team’s last two games. After scoring only 10 points in the loss to France, he is leading the team with 19.0 points per game. Jayson Tatum, coming off the bench, has added 14.4 points per game, while Jrue Holliday has chipped in 12.0.

For all the Americans’ scoring prowess, it will be their team defense that could make the difference. France, like basically every other team the United States has faced, tried to use size and strength to bully the Americans’ smaller lineups. Rebounding on both sides of the ball will be crucial.



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