Heading into Sunday’s gold medal game between the United States and Serbia, you could easily see a situation where the U.S. men’s basketball team would be going home without a gold medal for just the fourth time in tournament history.
After all, Team USA had showed signs of struggling in their group play games, including blowing an 18 point first quarter lead to this very same Serbian team and only winning by three. Even in knockout play, the U.S. squeezed past Spain in the semifinals and had to bounce back from an early 10 point deficit against Argentina.
Then they actually started the 2016 gold medal game, and all worry was washed aside quickly. A 13-3 run that bridged the first and second quarters gave the United States a 25-17 lead, and things just got worse for Serbia from there. Thanks to a triple from Kevin Durant with 25 seconds left in the half, Team USA was up 23 at the break, and Carmelo Anthony broke the ice on the second half with another three to remind Serbia to know their role and shut their mouths.
By the final horn, the United States had won the game, 96-66, capturing their third straight gold medal, their 25th straight Olympic victory, and their 53rd consecutive win in Olympic, FIBA World Cup, or FIBA Americas action.
With the win, Jimmy Butler became the third Marquette men’s basketball player to win a gold medal at the Olympics. Dwyane Wade won gold in 2008, while Frank McCabe was a part of Team USA back in 1952.
Durant led all scorers in the championship match with 30 points on a ridiculous 10-of-19 shooting effort, including 5-of-11 from three point range. Nemanja Nedovic had 14 points to pace Serbia. Butler contributed 14 minutes off the bench for the Americans, finishing with two points, five rebounds (four on the offensive end), an assist, and a block.