Last Word On Basketball

Team USA beats France for Olympic Gold Medal

Team USA got revenge against France in the gold medal game at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

SAITAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 07: Team United States pose for photographs with their gold medals during the Men's Basketball medal ceremony on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 07, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Team USA has defeated France for the Olympic Gold Medal in the 2020 Tokyo games. The United States won the Gold by defeating the same team that snapped their 25-game Olympic win streak in the preliminary round of this tournament. This is the fourth straight gold medal for the United States in Men’s Basketball.

Team USA beats France for Olympic Gold Medal 

First Quarter

The first quarter was tightly contested. Team USA managed to keep up with France early despite missing their first eight attempts from beyond the arc. Defensively, Team USA focused on locking down the perimeter. This allowed Rudy Gobert to cash in early near the rim but the consistent pressure forced France into several turnovers.  Kevin Durant carried Team USA to a late first-quarter lead. Durant scored nine straight for the United States as they ended the period on a 16-6 run.

Second Quarter

Team USA jumped out to an eight-point lead early in the second. France fought back, forcing the ball inside to Gobert and Vincent Poirier. A 17-8 run extended Team USA’s lead to 13 with four minutes left in the period. France once again clawed their way back with a front-court attack. The French went to a pick-and-roll-heavy strategy, taking advantage of the mismatch whenever Team USA had a guard switched onto Gobert. This strategy shift and numerous fouls from the United States allowed France to go on an 11-4 run of their own.

Durant dominated the half offensively, scoring 21 points. Jayson Tatum played well in the first half. He scored 11 points and was the leader offensively when Durant was off the court. France was led by Gobert, who had 13 points and seven rebounds in the first half. Evan Fournier, the hero of the preliminary round matchup, chipped in with 11 points and three rebounds.

Team USA looked much better in this first half compared to the last meeting with France. Unlike their previous two games, the United States found themselves leading 44-39 at halftime.

Third Quarter

The second half started with another flurry from the United States who quickly pushed the lead back to double-digits. Back-to-back threes from Guerschon Yabusele got France within striking distance halfway through the period. Team USA’s defensive effort continued to impress in the third quarter. Steals and blocked shots allowed them to push the pace offensively, cashing in on easy fastbreak attempts.  Equally impressive was their ball control and efficiency on offense. The United States didn’t commit many turnovers and moved the ball with quick intensity.

Explosive third-quarter runs have been a trend in Team USA’s recent winning streak. This game was no different. Stifling defense and more production from Durant and Tatum led the United States into the final period with an eight-point lead. A clutch corner three from France’s Nicholas Batum cut the deficit back to single digits before the buzzer.

Fourth Quarter

The Gold Medal Game went down to the wire with the United States again hoping to defend a late fourth-quarter lead against a talented French squad. Damian Lillard hit a big shot from the corner to push the lead back to nine with just under five minutes remaining. France refused to quit. Nando De Colo converted a huge layup and free throw to cut it to seven with two minutes left. Equally crucial was a heads-up play from Draymond Green on a missed free throw from De Colo. In international play, both offensive and defensive players can touch the ball while it is on the rim from a free throw. Green effectively blocked the attempt, forcing it out of the cylinder.

Fournier kept France alive with a three in the final minute. He missed a second attempt to make it a one-possession game but a dangerous turnover gave France a third chance. This time, De Colo sunk both free throws, bringing the lead down to three with 10.2 seconds remaining. Durant sealed the victory with a pair of clutch free throws. Team USA beat France for the Olympic gold by a final score of 87-82. France earned their third silver medal in this event and the first one since 2000. 

Team USA vs. France – Olympic Gold Medal Game: Key Players

For the United States, it is only fitting that Durant was the key to this final victory. Team USA’s all-time leading scorer finished with a game-high 29 points. Lillard and Jrue Holiday each had 11 points while Tatum scored 19 and had seven rebounds. Durant staying out of foul trouble was a key difference in this game. An even bigger factor was the team defense played by the United States. They forced 18 French turnovers which led to easy buckets on the other end.

The French team should hold their heads high after this effort. They played well as a team and had a chance right up until the end. France had five players score in double figures. Gobert and Pourier were hard to handle in the paint, Fournier and De Colo provided the offense from the perimeter, and Yabusele and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot provided additional offense with 13 and 11 points respectively.

With this victory, Team USA has earned their 15th Olympic Gold Medal in Men’s Basketball. The United States Women’s Basketball team also earned Gold, defeating Japan last night.

Main Photo

Embed from Getty Images

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