It was nervous times in the first half but Team USA took care of business in their quarterfinal clash against the reigning world champions - Spain.
Behind a 52-38 second half, Team USA ran away with this game and won 95-81 when the final buzzer sounded. This victory keeps their quest for a fourth consecutive gold medal alive.
Five players scored in double figures for Team USA, led by Kevin Durant's 29 points.
It's on to the #Tokyo2020 semifinals! @KDTrey5 29 PTS @jaytatum0 13 PTS- USA Basketball (@usabasketball) August 3, 2021
🇺🇸 #USABMNT #Basketball pic.twitter.com/73iUQU9WH5
For more on this commanding win, we have you covered with some takes below.
Durant & Rubio scoring duel
Kevin Durant and Ricky Rubio led the scoring charts for their respective teams. The point guard finished with a game-high 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 from beyond the arc in 28 minutes of action.
However, he didn't receive much help as he scored nearly 47 percent of the team's 81 points with only two of his teammates scored in double figures (Sergio Rodriguez - 16; Willy Hernanogomez - 10).
Ricky Rubio left it all on the court vs 🇺🇸- FIBA #Tokyo2020 (@FIBA) August 3, 2021
🔺Carreer-high 38 PTS
🔺Single-game #Olympics high for 🇪🇸
Mad respect for the 2019 World Cup MVP 👏 #Tokyo2020 #Basketball pic.twitter.com/wyfSBJ8eg2
Whereas, for Team USA, the guard trio of Damian Lillard, Jrue Holiday and Zach LaVine combined for 33 points while Jayson Tatum added 13.
Having jumped to the top of Team USA's all-time scoring charts in the previous game, Durant extends his lead at the top with his team-high points tally.
Team USA second-half burst
About halfway through the second quarter, Team USA trailed by their biggest deficit of 10 (39-29). Shots weren't going down and things were looking bleak but the reigning gold medalists battled through and closed out the first half on a 14-4 run to tie things up.
The second half was unlike the first. Team USA displayed better ball movement and scored points off Spain turnovers as they tightened things up on the defensive end, cuttin off their ball-handlers at the 3-point line and getting out in transition.
22-6 run to open the third! 👊- USA Basketball (@usabasketball) August 3, 2021
4:33 3Q | 🇺🇸 65 🇪🇸 49#Tokyo2020 #Basketball
Including their explosion at the beginning of the third and their run at the end of the first half, they turned the game on its head by outscoring Spain 36-10.
Team USA figuring out small lineup
In the first half of this game, Spain took advantage of their size mistmatch, crashing the glass and using their size to get easy buckets at the rim and late in the second quarter they were outrebounding Team USA 27-14.
With Bam Adebayo (6-foot-9) holding it down in the middle, head coach Gregg Popovich opted not to bring in a bigger body like JaVale McGee, countering Spain's size by speeding things up with the smaller lineup and forcing Spain to adjust.
The reigning World Champions dominated every category that they could win with size - rebounds (42-32), second-chance points (11-6) and blocks (7-1) - however, once Team USA tightened things up on the defensive end, they turned the tide of the game, scoring 17 points off Spain's 17 turnovers, recording 14 steals to Spain's three.
With shooters all over the court, USA's ball movement picked up in the second half as they gave up good shots to get great shots, assisting on 28 of their 36 field goals. With Durant and Tatum stepping into open triples and knocking down shots, the offence looks a lot crisper when the ball is flying around the court.
What's next for Team USA?
With this victory, Team USA have eliminated Spain in five straight Olympics and have reached the semifinals of every Olympics that they have participated in.
In the semis, Team USA will face the winner of the Australia and Argentina quarterfinal clash.
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