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Olympics-Basketball-US wins third straight gold in men's final

While 7-0, the 2016 version has won by an average of 21.4 points while surviving four games by 10 points or fewer.

What followed after the break was a predictable in-game party for the Americans, with Durant eventually serving as head cheerleader at the end thanks to a lead that stretched as high as 41 points, all of which banished the memories of those nervy three single-digit victories in their first seven games here.

He dropped 30 points to lead Team USA to a 30-point win and claim his second career gold medal. Most of the players the Warriors sacrificed to sign Durant have played a major part in their recent success. The gap between Team USA and the competition shrunk compared to previous Olympics, and the program's humbling in 2004 is always there as a reminder of what happens when America doesn't take the competition seriously enough. At one point in the third quarter, they seemed destined to smash the all-time winning margin of 44 points set by the US way back in 1948.

Serbia has a team of experienced pros. Since then, they're playing with the kind of fire and focus that was lacking in those near-disaster games. Maybe the most intriguing long-term rival for the U.S.is Canada, which has produced a number of lottery talents in the last five years, thanks to a pipeline that makes them compete with Americans from an early age.

"It was therapy for me after making a big change in my life", Durant said. I'm a lifer in the game. "I wasn't being myself". "We hadn't had a contact practice in a long time, since we left Chicago (after a July 29 exhibition game). I just want to say thanks for that, and I appreciate that".

To be sure, the result may well have been different had the United States not been able to latch on to a winning formula it first employed in turning a poor quarterfinal-round start against Argentina into a rout; indeed, its vaunted Two Ds - defense and the silky smooth touch of Kevin Durant - were what it needed to assert its ascendancy in the final. With the USA up, 16-15, Durant pulled up from beyond the top of the key for a three-pointer to put the Americans up four heading into the first break. After Serbia hit a three, Durant pulled up for another bomb and it was 31-20. "But we're just going to continue to do everything that we do to stay on top". Still, he wasn't done.

Cousins and Lowry both checked in with three and a half minutes remaining, and the former quickly committed an offensive foul. "We had an easier ride in our last two". Then, on a gorgeous set where the USA players zipped four passes around the perimeter, he drained one last three before the half. And the Serbians were done.

They weren't the Dream Team, or even the Redeem Team - not even close. You see how they prepare, you learn about their techniques.

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Not quite like that. I knew [a backlash] was coming. People started wanting to pile on him for choosing "the easy way" of pursuing his first National Basketball Association championship. "I think we made them [proud]". Oh, and let's not forget Olympian Klay Thompson, who might be a better streak shooter than either of them. The redemption that James, Bryant and Co. were seeking in the two Olympics after that embarrassment has been attained, and it was all too easy this year for the NBA's best to wave off the Olympics as a bother. The team owns a 60-1 record since that debacle.

Durant still hasn't lost the simple thrill that comes from playing hoops and being part of a victor.

"The whole experience the last decade, really, I thought it would be an incredible honor", he said, "and it was". For almost a month, Durant got to play the game he loves, bond with some new and old friends - and win - without sweating any manufactured controversies or external second-guessing. That helps me. It may not help other players, but it helps me. I can't let anybody steal my job.

The 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player led the way with 30 points as the USA overcame a sluggish first quarter by dominating the second 33-14 en route to a third gold in a row and 15th gold overall in the sport.

Anthony also picked up his third gold to go with a bronze, becoming the most decorated male in Olympic basketball history. If he does play, he could tie Carmelo Anthony, who won his third gold this summer, becoming the first to achieve this feat. Everyone would love to see that.

Durant was a shining example, though he was a little too selfless along the way.

There were storylines all over the place in this game. Stefan Jovic would then go on to miss a wide open 3, while Kyrie Irving got a quick bucket at the other end, 11-9 U.S.

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