SAITAMA, Japan – The best news Team USA received this summer was that Kevin Durant has committed to playing. Saturday reminded everyone why.
On a night when he became the top American scorer of all time at the Olympics, Durant added another tremendous performance to his résumé with Team USA in a 119-84 victory over the Czech Republic.
The victory secured second place in their group for Team USA and a place in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. His opponent and playing time will be determined in a draw on Sunday with the sole certainty that there cannot be a rematch with France until at least the semi-finals.
Due to their two beating wins in their last two games, Team USA will finish in a favorable position and avoid major medal contenders Australia, Spain and potentially even Luka Doncic-led Slovenia in the quarterfinals.
Durant finished with 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting, which was important to the cause of course, but his play and defense were so helpful as he had eight rebounds and six assists as well. In the third quarter he was masterful, scoring 10 points with four of his assists as the game went from a tight contest to a comfortable beating.
Durant got off to a slow start in Tokyo, scoring just 20 points overall in the first two games and shooting just 40%. Even in practice foreplay in Las Vegas, Durant wasn’t moving at full speed as he admitted it all looked like training and shot only 43%. Then he was fouled in the opening loss to France, a key factor in the Americans’ offensive struggles.