Team USA beats Rudy Gobert and France to win gold; Joe Ingles, Australia win bronze
Damian Lillard, playing in his first Olympics, scored 11 points while reportedly playing through an abdomen injury as the United States beat Rudy Gobert and France 87-82 to take home the gold medal.
Damian Lillard is an Olympic gold medalist.
The former Weber State guard, playing in his first Olympics, scored 11 points as the United States beat France 87-82 to take home gold on Saturday. Lillard added three assists, a rebound and a steal and shot 4-of-11 from the field.
Following the game, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Lillard had been playing with an abdomen injury during the Olympics. Lillard pushed through to help the United States win gold.
Sources: Damian Lillard played through an abdomen injury during Team USA’s Tokyo Olympics run, which will require further testing upon return to the States. Lillard wanted to continue playing to help USA capture the gold medal.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 7, 2021
“More joy than relief, but definitely some relief because of the expectations that get placed on Team USA,” Lillard said after the game, per USA Today. “There’s going to be some relief because of it, especially with us losing a few games. It’s like, ‘All right, we got to get it done. Let’s get to it.’ Finally getting there and winning the gold-medal game, you can almost exhale.”
Kevin Durant was phenomenal for the USA, leading all scorers with 29 points and contributing six rebounds, three assists and a block. Durant has come up big for the United States in gold medal games — he scored 30 points as the USA beat Spain in 2012 and had 30 points in the United States’ win over Serbia in 2016. USA basketball has won four straight gold medals at the Olympics.
Jayson Tatum scored 19 points and Jrue Holiday had 11 to round out the four Americans who scored in double figures.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert scored 16 points for France, tying Evan Fournier for the team-high, and grabbed eight rebounds. Gobert was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, although he was 6-of-13 from the free-throw line.
Much of France’s offense, especially in the first half, involved getting Gobert the ball in the pick-and-roll against the United States, who were switching, allowing Gobert to exploit the mismatch.
In the knockout round, the United States often struggled in the first half before turning it on in the second half, but Durant picked up the slack on Saturday, scoring 21 points in the first two quarters. Still, France hung with the USA and only trailed by five at halftime.
It became clear throughout the Olympics that the United States was not going to blow teams off the court in the knockout rounds, as it did in previous Olympics. Yes, the USA had plenty of star power — much more than any other team — with Durant, Lillard, Tatum, Devin Booker and recent NBA champion Khris Middleton.
But this team wasn’t a “Dream Team”, missing stars like LeBron James, Steph Curry, Chris Paul, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis, among others. Add in that the rest of the world has vastly improved in exporting players to the NBA, and a gold medal was not a sure thing.
France, which had already beaten the USA in the group stage, boasted five players who were on NBA rosters last season — Gobert, Fournier, Nicolas Batum, Frank Ntilikina and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot.
The USA entered the fourth quarter up eight, but France clawed its way back into the game as the United States went cold in the middle of the quarter, not scoring a point for nearly three-and-a-half minutes. Ntilikina made a 3-pointer with just under six minutes remaining to cut the Americans’ lead to three points.
The USA responded with a 6-0 run, with two baskets assisted by Lillard, to extend the lead to 79-70 with 4:40 left.
After two free throws from Booker, the United States was seemingly set to cruise to the podium with an 84-75 lead with just under two minutes left, but France again showed its fight. Fournier hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to six, then Holiday split a pair of free throws. Nando de Colo hit a shot with 17 seconds left, then Batum stole the ball, setting up two free throws from de Colo.
The United States was clinging to a 3-point lead with 10 seconds left.
The USA turned to Durant once again, and he made two free throws to deliver the gold medal.
Durant now holds the title of the greatest United States Olympic basketball player ever, as he has led the USA to three consecutive Olympic gold medals and is the United States’ all-time Olympic leading scorer.
As the USA celebrated at midcourt, Gobert was dejected postgame, having led his team so close to gold. Gobert was instrumental in guiding France to silver. He averaged 12.2 points and 9.3 rebounds across six Olympic games.
Joe Ingles, Australia beat Slovenia to win bronze
In the bronze medal game a few hours later, Gobert’s Jazz teammate Joe Ingles and Australia beat Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic and Slovenia 107-93. It is the first-ever medal for Australia in men’s basketball, something Ingles said before the Olympics was his top career goal.
Ingles finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists in the victory. Patty Mills was fantastic, scoring 42 points and contributing nine assists, three rebounds and a steal. Former Jazz guard Dante Exum had 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting, with all 12 points coming in the fourth quarter. Jock Landale scored 14 points and Matisse Thybulle added 11 points to round out the scoring for the Boomers. Doncic scored 22 points to lead Slovenia.
With six minutes left in the game, Doncic and Slovenia cut Australia’s lead to three points. Australia responded with a 7-0 run, with Exum making a shot and dishing out an assist, to get the lead back to double digits.
After winning the coveted medal, Ingles was thrilled as he FaceTimed Donovan Mitchell with the medal in hand.
Eddy Alvarez makes history as USA baseball win silver
Former Salt Lake Community College baseball player became just the sixth athlete in history to medal in both the Winter and Summer Olympics.
Alvarez won a bronze medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics as part of the 5,000-meter speed skating relay team and won the baseball silver medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Saturday with USA baseball.
The United States lost to Japan, 2-0, in the gold medal game to take home silver. Alvarez went 1-for-4 in the loss.
Munetaka Murakami hit a home run and Tetsuto Yamada scored on an error for Japan.