U.S.A. 107 vs SPAIN 100
Boy, were these American boys tested.
The Americans came out fast and furious. They led as many as nine points in the first quarter and ended up with a 35-27 lead.
Spain, with their size advantage, decided to make the game physical. It became a freethrow shooting contest in the second quarter. Spain and U.S.A. exchanged runs but in the end, the Spanish cut the American lead down to 1 by halftime.
Then Pau Gasol took over. With his brother (you know him as Marc Gasol) in foul trouble, the two-time NBA champion scored Spain's first 13 points of the third as they took a 3-point lead over U.S.A. Serge Ibaka also wreaked havoc on both sides for the Spanish. But timely shots by Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant kept Spain at bay. Whenever they got a defensive stop, the Americans took advantage by running out. Still, both teams evened out and the Americans only led by 1 after 3, 83-82.
Spain rested Pau at the start of the fourth and that proved to be crucial. A 7-1 run spearheaded by LeBron James and Chris Paul built the lead to 7. At that point, Spain had to play catch-up. But every time Spain had something, the U.S. would counter. Durant made a key three to push the lead back to seven. Kobe made a putback banker to push the lead to 10. And with two minutes left, LeBron made a huge three that put the lead back to 9. It was too big of a lead for Spain to overcome and, once again, Team U.S.A. claimed gold. Coach K was fired up!
It was about who could force the tempo. Spain was the physical team and with America not having enough bigs, they had to play helter skelter defense and force runouts. In the end, Team U.S.A. just had more quality players and depth.
Durant was awesome again as he led Team U.S.A. in scoring with 30 points. LeBron finished with 19 points and Kobe, who claimed that this is his last Olympics, had 17. Pau Gasol, who I suppose is now stress-free from all the Laker trade rumors, finished with 24 points and former Memphis Grizzly Juan Carlos Navarro had 21 points.
It will be weird to see the Americans go against each other when the NBA returns on October 30th. But what a ride it was and, while expected, I am glad Team U.S.A. won the gold. And I am glad we had a great gold medal game to finish off the Olympics.
Here's a great pic to finish it off.