The United States withstood a spirited fight from France to secure an 82-87 victory and claim its fourth straight Olympic gold medal.
NBA superstar Kevin Durant was too much as he led the USA with 29 points, and Jayson Tatum added 19 points at the Saitama Super Arena. France, which had beaten the Americans in the first game of the tournament 83-76, will head home from Tokyo with its third silver medal – losing all three times to the USA in the final, the others coming in 1948 and 2000.
Rudy Robert and Evan Fournier both tallied 16 points for France, while Guerschon Yabusele scored 13 points and Nando de Colo picked up 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists in the loss. The French didn’t help their own cause, committing 18 turnovers – and forcing just nine for the USA – while hitting 18-of-29 free throws.
France led early on by six points thanks to some early USA shooting woes, but Durant heated up and tallied 12 points as the Americans were ahead 18-22 after 10 minutes. The USA momentum continued, and the advantage grew to 13 points – 26-39 – but Gobert and Fournier had combined for 21 points by halftime, and France trailed just 39-44 at the break.
Yabusele opened the second half with a three-pointer, and France pulled within 42-44. The USA surged ahead with a 1-10 spurt to lead 45-56, but two more Yabusele triples made it 55-62. The Americans managed to pull away 57-71, but it was just 63-71 after 30 minutes as France refused to give up. After a three-pointer from Frank Ntilikina trimmed the deficit to 70-73, the Americans extended the gap to 10 points and were still up 75-84 inside the final 70 seconds.
De Colo hit two free throws with 10.2 seconds left to make things interesting at 82-85, only to see Durant ice the game from the free-throw line with 8.8 seconds remaining.
Slovenia and Australia will be playing later Saturday in the bronze medal game, which will see one of those countries win its first-ever Olympic men’s basketball medal.