Tokyo Olympics: Kevin Durant demands gold push as USA edge out Rubio-led Spain in quarters

By Sports Desk August 03, 2021

Kevin Durant said Team USA have "got to finish it" after battling past Spain to reach the Olympic semi-finals.

The Brooklyn Nets star poured in a team-high 29 points as the United States won 95-81 at the Saitama Super Arena, bolstering their gold medal hopes.

It was far from an easy assignment, and nor was it always entirely convincing from the US team, who trailed 39-29 with 3:25 of the second quarter remaining.

They rallied impressively, however, to draw level at 43-43 at the halfway point, and Spain never led again.

"We started making shots there in the second quarter. Once we see that ball going into the rim, that put all of us at ease," Durant said.

"Our defence was a little better, a little tighter, we rebounded better after that. And guys just got more comfortable shooting the basketball.

"We drove it to the rim at the end of that second and were able to get our rhythm back a little bit. I like how we played in that second quarter, from the end of the second quarter all the way to finish the game, and that's how we're gonna need to play going forward.

"It was a huge boost. We didn't want to go into the half down double digits. We knew we didn't want to get down big against this team."

Ricky Rubio plundered 38 points for Spain, with the Minnesota Timberwolves man shooting 13-of-20 from the field. That gave him the highest score by a Spain men's player in an Olympic game, beating the 37 points that Pau Gasol scored against China in 2004.

Rubio also drained four of his seven shots from three-point range, the same as Durant, but USA's 22-6 run at the start of the third quarter took the game away from Spain.

The Spaniards briefly got back to just four points behind, in the early moments of the fourth quarter, yet despite their overall 42-32 dominance on the boards, they were found wanting elsewhere.

USA coach Gregg Popovich said: "I feel great about the victory knowing full well there is a lot of work to be done. We played a terrific basketball team.

"To play that team and go down by nine or 10 and stay in and find a way to win is very satisfying."

Durant feels the team are ready to step up a level, now they are through to the final four.

The pre-Olympics defeats to Australia and Nigeria no longer matter, nor does the loss to France in the Tokyo 2020 group stage.

"I love how we stuck with it throughout this whole period of time and guys started figuring out what we need to do," Durant said.

"You've just got to finish it. We're supposed to be here. For us it's about getting a gold."

Related items

  • Premier League Fantasy Picks: Is Watkins a week three gamble worth taking? Premier League Fantasy Picks: Is Watkins a week three gamble worth taking?

    We are just three weeks into the new Premier League campaign and already fantasy football managers are getting twitchy over their team selection.

    While a number of big-name players have made a fast start to the season, others have yet to get going and some tough decisions have to be made.

    Whether you're looking to make up ground on the leaders or consolidate your position among the early pacesetters, matchday three presents a chance to get points on the board.

    With the aid of Opta data, Stats Perform has picked out a goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and striker for your consideration.


    DEAN HENDERSON (Everton v Nottingham Forest)

    David de Gea's shaky start to the season at Manchester United has coincided with Henderson's good form at Nottingham Forest, where he is spending the season on loan from Old Trafford.

    Henderson conceded twice against Newcastle United on the opening weekend, but he starred in last week's 1-0 win over West Ham to give Forest lift-off on their top-flight return.

    No goalkeeper has made more saves (11) or prevented more goals (2.2) in the Premier League than Henderson this season, while his save percentage of 75.52 since the start of 2019-20 is the best of any keeper to have recorded at least 50 saves.


    RAYAN AIT-NOURI (Tottenham v Wolves)

    Wolves are seeking their first win of the season at the third attempt this weekend, having so far struggled to find a way past opponents with just one goal in two games.

    That is not down to a lack of trying from Ait-Nouri, as only Trent Alexander-Arnold and Aaron Cresswell (six) have created more than his four chances among defenders.

    Ait-Nouri's expected assists (xGA) return of 0.53, meanwhile, is bettered only by Alexander-Arnold (0.97) and Reece James (0.48) in the same positional category.


    KEVIN DE BRUYNE (Newcastle United v Manchester City)

    Picking up from where he left off last term, De Bruyne has assisted a goal – and scored one of his own – in each of City's opening two Premier League matches.

    The Belgium playmaker's three direct goal involvements this term is bettered only by former team-mate Gabriel Jesus, who has scored two and assisted two for Arsenal.

    De Bruyne has been involved in 24 goals in his past 22 games in the competition, and he is one of four players to have scored and assisted in 20 different games since 2015-16.


    OLLIE WATKINS (Crystal Palace v Aston Villa)

    England international Watkins may be seeking his first goal of the campaign, but he chipped in with two assists in last week's victory over Everton.

    The 26-year-old has now been involved in six goals in his past seven Premier League matches, scoring three and assisting three, having also ended last season strongly.

    That form could spell bad news for Palace, as only against Liverpool (five) has he been involved in more top-flight goals than he has against the Eagles (three).

  • Keegan Bradley putts his way to first round lead at the BMW Championship Keegan Bradley putts his way to first round lead at the BMW Championship

    Keegan Bradley rode a hot putter to the outright lead after 18 holes of the BMW Championship, finishing Thursday's play with a seven-under 64.

    Bradley entered the week ranked 44th in the FedEx Cup standings, outside the top-30 who will qualify for next week's Tour Championship, but put himself in a great position thanks in large part to his work on the greens.

    He collected six birdies on the front nine, and according to Data Golf's strokes gained stats, Bradley was the top overall putter in the opening round, picking up 4.00 strokes with the flat stick, while also coming in seventh in the approach category (2.02 strokes gained).

    It was a similar story for Adam Scott in outright second at six under, finishing third in putting (3.30 strokes gained) and 11th in approach shots (1.82 strokes gained).

    In a tie for third at five under is the trio of Harold Varner III, Shane Lowry and Justin Thomas – but they all made it there in different ways.

    Varner excelled in the tee-to-green category, putting a gap on the field as he gained 5.28 strokes, with Lowry in second-place at 3.32. While Varner was the third-best driver on the day, Lowry was actually a negative off the tee, but led the field in the approach category.

    Meanwhile, Thomas was solid just about everywhere, finishing on the fringe of the top-10 in tee-to-green, around the green and putting categories – despite lipping out a four-footer for his only bogey on the 15th hole.

    The logjam at four under includes Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Cameron Young, and there is a star-studded group one further back at three under featuring Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. McIlroy will be left ruing a calamitous showing at the par-three 15th hole, where he found the water to triple-bogey when he was one stroke off the lead.

    U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick headlines the group at two under, Hideki Matsuyama and Will Zalatoris are at one under, and recent 20-year-old winner Joo-hyung 'Tom' Kim is at even par.

    Viktor Hovland and Jon Rahm will be disappointed with their rounds at two over, and the previously red-hot Tony Finau is likely out of the hunt as only two players shot worse than his six-over 77.

  • West Ham 3-1 Viborg: Scamacca opens account as Hammers take command of ECL play-off tie West Ham 3-1 Viborg: Scamacca opens account as Hammers take command of ECL play-off tie

    Gianluca Scamacca scored his first West Ham goal as the Hammers established a commanding 3-1 lead over Viborg in the first leg of their Europa Conference League play-off clash.

    Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio were also on target for the hosts at the London Stadium, with Jakob Bonde's header providing a consolation for the visitors ahead of next week's return leg in Denmark.

    The Hammers' fortunes were overseen by first-team coach Billy McKinlay, with manager David Moyes serving a touchline ban following his red card in last season's Europa League semi-final defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt.

    Vladimir Coufal wore the captain's armband in the absence of Declan Rice and Aaron Cresswell – both also serving continental suspensions – but the hosts took the lead in the 24th minute; Scamacca rising to head home Maxwel Cornet's inviting cross.

    They doubled their lead after 64 minutes as Bowen collected a loose ball, before brilliantly drilling low past Lucas Lund from 30 yards. The visitors halved the deficit five minutes later when Bonde arrived at the far post to nod home Christian Sorensen's centre.

    But substitutes Antonio and Said Benrahma combined to restore the hosts' two-goal buffer in the 78th minute. Benrahma embarked on a jinking run from the left flank, before squaring for Antonio to tuck into the empty net.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.