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Olympic Basketball 2021: Durant, USA Upset by Gobert, France; 1st Loss Since 2004

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 25, 2021

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Men's basketball got underway at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo on Sunday, and the slate was highlighted by France upsetting Team USA.

The Americans trailed by six entering the fourth quarter after mustering just 11 points in the third before charging back and building a seven-point lead. Team USA struggled mightily from the field late, however, and Boston Celtics wing Evan Fournier hit a go-ahead three with 57 seconds remaining to give France a lead it never relinquished.

The Czech Republic, Italy and Australia also got off to winning starts Sunday as they attempt to end the United States' run of three consecutive Olympic gold medals.

 

Men's Olympic Basketball Sunday Results

France 83, USA 76

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Czech Republic 84, Iran 78

Italy 92, Germany 82

Australia 84, Nigeria 67

 

France 83, USA 76

Facing perhaps its biggest competition for gold at the 2021 Summer Olympics, Team USA faded late in an 83-76 loss to France on Sunday.

The Americans led by eight at halftime, but France turned the tables with a 25-11 advantage in the third quarter to carry a six-point lead into the fourth.

It looked as though the Americans had solved their shooting woes and were on their way to a come-from-behind win as they built up a seven-point lead in the fourth, but they went cold over the final three minutes, 41 seconds.

Thanks to a 14-0 run, France charged ahead and established an insurmountable lead in the upset win.

As Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium noted, the loss was Team USA's first at the Olympics in 17 years:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Team USA loss to France today is USAB’s first Olympic loss since 2004 vs. Argentina.

As evidenced by the following tweet from CBS Sports HQ, Team USA has not been its usually dominant self since Gregg Popovich replaced Mike Krzyzewski as head coach:

CBS Sports HQ @CBSSportsHQ

Team USA with Gregg Popovich as Head Coach<br><br>2019 Pre-FIBA Exhibitions 3-1<br>2019 FIBA Bball World Cup 6-2*<br>2021 Pre-Olympic Exhibitions 2-2 <br>2021 Olympics 0-1<br><br>*7th-place finish was Americans’ worst ever in a major tournament <a href="https://t.co/P8i8Ol0JUI">pic.twitter.com/P8i8Ol0JUI</a>

Team USA shot just 36 percent from the field in the game, including 31 percent from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, France connected on 47 percent of its attempts from the floor.

Led by Utah Jazz center and reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, France out-rebounded Team USA 42-36 as well.

The true standout for France was Fournier, who led all players with 28 points on 11-of-22 shooting in the game.

Team USA was led by Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, who paced the team with 18 points fresh off winning an NBA championship:

NBA @NBA

Jrue Holiday takes it to the bucket to reach 12 4th-quarter points!<a href="https://twitter.com/usabasketball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@usabasketball</a> leads France by 2 with under 3 minutes to play at the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a>.<br><br>(📽️ - <a href="https://twitter.com/NBCOlympics?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBCOlympics</a>)<a href="https://t.co/7GCc0UwtiR">pic.twitter.com/7GCc0UwtiR</a>

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant found himself in foul trouble and played much of the second half with four fouls. As a result, Durant finished with just 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

Team USA will look to get back on track Tuesday when it faces Nigeria, while France will look to build on Sunday's win against host Japan on Tuesday.

 

Czech Republic 84, Iran 78

Making its first Olympic appearance in men's basketball since Czechoslovakia split up into two nations, the Czech Republic got off to a winning start Sunday.

The Czechs overwhelmed Iran over the first three quarters, leading by 16 at halftime and by 21 entering the fourth.

Iran finally showed signs of life by outscoring the Czechs 32-17 in the final quarter, but the deficit was too much to overcome.

The Czech Republic benefited from balanced scoring, as Patrik Auda, Blake Schlib and Jan Vesely all scored in double figures.

Chicago Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky led the team with 34 minutes played, but he finished with just six points on 2-of-14 shooting. He did contribute in other ways, though, adding eight assists and eight rebounds.

Iran got a game-high 23 points from Behnam Yakhchalidehkordi, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Czech Republic's team effort.

While Iran shot better than the Czech Republic from the field, making 50 percent of its shots compared to the Czechs' 45 percent, the Czechs emerged victorious on the strength of forcing 21 turnovers and winning the rebounding battle 43-33.

Up next for the Czech Republic is France on Wednesday, while Iran will take on Team USA on Wednesday.

 

Italy 92, Germany 82

Despite trailing for most of the first three quarters against Germany on Sunday, Italy came from behind to win 92-82.

The Italians fell behind by 10 after one quarter and trailed by four entering the fourth, but they outscored the Germans 24-10 in the final quarter to secure the win.

Three players scored at least 18 points for Italy, and five scored in double figures. Simone Fontecchio led the way with 20, while Atlanta Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari added 18 points.

Maodo Lo was the star for Germany, scoring a game-high 24 points. Germany also received major contributions from a pair of NBA players in Washington Wizards guard Isaac Bonga and Orlando Magic big man Moritz Wagner as they scored 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Both teams shot the ball well Sunday in what was an offensive track meet. Italy shot 50 percent from the field and 48 percent from deep, while Germany shot 47 percent from the floor and 47 percent from long range.

Germany turned the ball over 14 times to Italy's nine, and the Italians held the advantage in points in the paint (30-22), points off turnovers (16-2) and fast-break scoring (13-8).

Italy will look to continue rolling Wednesday against Australia, and Germany will attempt to bounce back Wednesday against Nigeria.

 

Australia 84, Nigeria 67

In a battle between two teams that beat the United States in exhibition games leading up to the Olympics, Australia comfortably defeated Nigeria 84-67 on Sunday.

The game was tightly contested for a while, as it was tied after one and Australia led by three at halftime, but the Aussies pulled away late.

Carrying a six-point lead into the fourth, Australia outscored Nigeria 26-15 to put the game away.

San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills was the standout with a game-high 25 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-8 from three-point range. Mills also chipped in six assists, four rebounds and four steals.

Australia also got 11 points out of Utah Jazz guard Joe Ingles and 11 points from former Jazz guard Dante Exum.

No one scored more than 12 points for Nigeria, although it did get double-figure scoring from four players.

Among them were Minnesota Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie (11 points), Miami Heat forward Precious Achiuwa (10 points) and Bucks guard Jordan Nwora (10 points).

Both teams shot the ball poorly at just 39 percent, but Australia made 46 percent of its threes and 89 percent of its free throws compared to 29 percent and 50 percent, respectively, for Nigeria.

They also struggled with ball-handling, as Nigeria turned it over 24 times to Australia's 21.

On Tuesday, Australia will face Belgium, and Nigeria will take on the United States.

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