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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 21: Gold medalists Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan of the United States stand on the podium after defeating Serbia in the Men's Gold medal game on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

U.S. Men’s Basketball Rout Serbia 96-66 In Gold Medal Game For Third Straight Olympic Title

Team USA began the Rio 2016 Olympics strong by winning the first gold medal of the Games thanks to teenage shooter Ginny Thrasher, and their last medal of the Games was also one to remember.

U.S. Men’s Basketball Rout Serbia 96-66 In Gold Medal Game For Third Straight Olympic Title

Led by Kevin Durant, who scored 30 points, the U.S. men’s basketball team thrashed Serbia 96-66 in Sunday’s gold medal game in Rio to earn their third consecutive Olympic title and cap off an 8-0 winning streak.

With the victory, the Americans extended their winning streak in the Olympics to 52 games and sent Mike Krzyzewski into his Team U.S.A. retirement as the first coach to win three Olympic gold medals.

In a rematch of their Aug. 12 pool play game–which Team USA won 94-91– the U.S. men comfortably cruised to victory. After leading by one late in the first quarter, they finished the first half on a 36-14 run and led 52-29 at halftime.

The Serbians did not have a single scorer reach double digits until late in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, they got to within four points of the Americans after the first quarter.

Durant, who left the Oklahoma City Thunder last month to join his U.S. Olympic teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on the Golden State Warriors, took over the game in the second quarter. The 27-year-old forward went on an incredible 8-0 run in the span of less than a minute that included back-to-back contested 3-pointers and a steal that he finished emphatically with a dunk.

At halftime, Durant had 24 points. “I just tried to go out there and be who I am,” he said, adding that in the first few games of the tournament, “I was trying too hard to sacrifice and make the extra pass and it was taking away from my game.”

The Americans also held Serbia to 38% shooting, while forcing 18 turnovers. Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins had 13 points and 15 rebounds, and Thompson added 12 points.

Krzyzewski, the Duke legend who was hired by program head Jerry Colangelo in 2005, is now officially retired from the national team and will make way for the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich in 2020. He finishes with a 59-1 mark overall, his lone loss coming against Greece in those 2006 Worlds that led to the bronze finish.

Carmelo Anthony, the New York Knicks star who already beat the all-time Team USA lead in scoring, is now the first American player to win a third gold medal.

Anthony, who was playing in the Olympics for an unprecedented fourth time, made it clear that his international career was done.

“As much as I’m going to miss it, it’s time to pass it on to some of the guys who were on the team this year, and also the younger guys (not on the team),” he said.

The U.S. men struggled in their first few games in Rio. Following blowout victories over China and Venezuela, they were pushed by Australia (98-88), Serbia (94-91) and France (100-97) before breaking out against Argentina (105-76) in the quarterfinals. They were also in control for most of their semifinal matchup against Spain (82-76), but had no reason to expect they would dominate the same way in the final. They ultimately won their eight games by an average of 22.5 points. The 1992 team, the first to include NBA players, beat its opponents by an average of 44 points.

The United States shot 44 percent from the field on Sunday. Serbia, which shot 38 percent, was led by Nemanja Nedovic’s 14 points on 10 shots.

The Serbian coach, Aleksandar Djordjevic, said that from the second quarter on, “Our morale was going down.”

During the medals ceremony, Anthony exercised his leadership role one last time, pointing out to his teammates where the flag was during the playing of the national anthem. ”I just told them look at the highest flag,” he said.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 21: Gold medalists Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan of the United States stand on the podium after defeating Serbia in the Men’s Gold medal game on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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Written by Pablo Mena

Writer and assistant editor for usports.org. NY Giants and Rangers fan. Film and TV enthusiast (especially Harry Potter and The Office) and lover of foreign languages and cultures.

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