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USA holds off Spain to win Olympic basketball gold

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CTVOlympics.ca
8/12/2012 3:26:27 PM
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Kevin Durant did most of the heavy lifting for the United States and LeBron James put the finishing touches on a 107-100 win over Spain in the gold-medal game of the men's basketball tournament at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Spaniards gave the Americans a fight they had not run into in London right from the opening whistle.

Early in the game, it was all Juan-Carlos Navarro for Spain, as the streaky gunner went off for 14 points over the opening 10 minutes. Despite Navarro's impressive start, the Americans were even hotter, shooting 7-of-10 from long range to build an early 35-27 lead.

Spain opened the second quarter with a 7-0 run to even the score before James stopped the run with a monstrous dunk.

The Americans calling card all tournament has been their ability to hit the three-point shot and they cooled off in the second quarter, going 1-of-8, to allow Spain to stay in the game. At the half, the American's lead was just a single point.

The Spaniards turned their attention to their inside advantage in the third quarter, giving plenty of touches to Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka . Gasol scored Spain's first 13 points on his way to a 15-point quarter.

But despite the impressive run by the Los Angeles Lakers centre, Durant and Kobe Bryant were also strong and the Americans hung onto their one-point lead on the cusp of the final quarter.

Durant scored 30 points to finish as the highest-American scorer at an Olympics, after totaling 156 points over the course of the London Games.

"We have a lot of NBA champs on this team," Durant said. "I just tried to hit some shots in the second half." 

While Durant and Bryant carried the load for the Americans for three quarters, the game became the LeBron James Show in the fourth quarter.

With the Americans holding a narrow lead with three minutes to play and James in foul trouble, he went on a tear, with a massive dunk and a three-pointer to create a nine-point gap between the two sides. Spain was unable to recover.

"I just wanted to make an imprint on the game," the Miami Heat star said. "I wasn't going to leave home with those four fouls." 

James had 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists to help the American cause as capped off a terrific year. He became the second player behind Michael Jordan to to win the NBA title, regular-season MVP, NBA Finals MVP and Olympic gold in the same year.

Bryant would finish with 17 points in his last Olympic Games.

"This it for me. I feel very fortunate to go to the Olympics twice and it give a go," Bryant said. "I feel very lucky. It was nice to come here in the twilight of my career."

Gasol would finish with 24 for Spain and Navarro finished with 21 as they would finish with the silver for the second consecutive Olympic Games.

"It's a bittersweet feeling.Obviously, there's great pride and satisfaction from winning an Olympic medal,but we were close again against this team of excellent players," Gasol said. "You have to have pretty much a perfect game to be able to beat them. I'm proud of our spirit and how close we were."

USA wins basketball gold (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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