Americans crush Serbia for Olympic basketball gold

Kevin Durant leads U.S. to rout of Serbia in Olympic men’s basketball final

RIO DE JANEIRO — After Kevin Durant hit a 3-pointer early in the second quarter, he walked back down the court while pounding his fist on his chest and yelling at his teammates on the bench nearby.

Turns out he was just clearing his throat.

It was Durant’s monster second quarter that ended any notion of an upset for Serbia and put the U.S. on the gold-medal stand for the third consecutive Olympics with a 96-66 victory over the Serbians, who surprised in these Olympics by taking the silver.

Durant had 30 points for the game, 18 of those in the second quarter, when he made Carioca Arena I marvel at both his shooting and athleticism and turned an unwatchable game into can’t miss television before it eventually became a laugher.

Durant picked up his second gold medal and while Carmelo Anthony and coach Mike Krzyzewski, coaching his last Olympics for Team USA before ceding to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, picked up their third.

The Americans had a rocky start to the game in the first quarter when Serbia mucked up the proceedings by fouling the U.S. in transition and keeping the U.S. from developing an offensive rhythm.

The U.S. led 19-15 at the end of the first following a late 3-pointer from Durant, who was beginning to catch fire. This team was often criticized for its lack of its lack of ball movement and a propensity for too much 1-on-1 basketball on offense. The thing is, when one of those players is feeling it as Durant was Sunday, even that brand of basketball looks effective.

The U.S. continued to pour it on in the second half, making it a smooth gold-medal game after an Olympics filled with bumps in the road. There were close victories against Serbia, France and Australia in pool play, but this team, while not as dominant over the tournament as some of its predecessors, avoided the embarrassment of coming home with anything less than gold.