Kevin Durant Leads the U.S. to Gold at the 2010 FIBA World Championships

September 12, 2010

Behind Kevin Durant's 28 points and some lockdown half court team defense, the United States ended a 16-year gold medal drought at the FIBA World Championships by defeating Turkey 81-64, in Sunday's gold medal match in Instanbul, Turkey.

In addition to Durant's heroics, Lamar Odom contributed 15 second-half points and 11 rebounds in the U.S. effort, with guard Russell Westbrook also providing 13 points off the American bench.

NBA veteran Hedo Turkoglu led Turkey with 16 points on 5-8 shooting.

Turkey initially appeared to have the early momentum necessary for an upset, as they were playing before a boisterous home crowd and coming fresh off a narrow semifinal win over Serbia. Just a few minutes into the first quarter, two back-to-back Turkoglu treys provided Turkey with its first lead at 15-14.

Meanwhile, aside from Durant, Team USA found itself struggling to score early against Turkey's zone. That prompted Coach K to insert energizer Russell Westbrook into the game with 3:14 left in first quarter.

With a Westbrook-Eric Gordon-Stephen Curry three-guard lineup, Team USA then went on a 13-2 run to give the Americans a 27-19 advantage.

Noticeably absent during that run was Turkoglu, as he had to temporarily leave the game with 3:05 left in the first quarter after injuring his knee while diving for a loose ball.

Still, Turkey managed to keep the game competitive for much of the first half, as the U.S. earned few fast break points, if any, from its usually deadly transition offense.

Fortunately for Team USA, a hot Durant poured in 20 points on 7-12 shooting during the half. His 5 deep treys single-handedly busted Turkey's zone, as the rest of the U.S. team struggled with paltry 1-13 shooting from behind the arc during the half.

Durant eventually would finish the game 7-13 from three-point land, and 10-17 overall.

In the second half, Lamar Odom gave Durant a helping hand, contributing to the American cause with a jumper, a three, some offensive rebounds, and a few buckets in transition. Westbrook also continued his stellar play, knocking down two treys, the second of which put the U.S. up 79-59 in the fourth quarter.

Unsung in the effort was Team USA's overall defense, which limited Turkey to 36% shooting for the game. The Americans harassed Turkey relentlessly on the perimeter, and more importantly, defended the entire shot clock, as Turkey committed four 24 second violations.

Again, Durant played a big role in the team's defense, blocking two shots and at one point playing at the 5 for a few brief minutes.

The U.S. would shoot only 44% for the game, but managed to outrebound the bigger Turkish team 42-34 due to their superior athleticism and quickness.

For his efforts Durant was deservedly named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Durant averaged 22.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 56% shooting, and an impressive 46% from three-point land, and clearly was the best player on the floor when it mattered most for the U.S. in the semifinal and final games.

With the victory, the U.S. received an automatic spot in the 2012 Olympics, and thus, will not have to go through any qualifying tournaments in 2011.

In the consolation game, Lithuania defeated Serbia, 99-88, to capture the bronze medal.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for

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