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Olympic Basketball 2021: Kevin Durant, USA Pull Away from Czech Republic for Win

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 31, 2021

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Team USA stamped its ticket to the knockout round in men's basketball at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo on Saturday.

The Americans won their second consecutive game after an opening loss to France, beating the Czech Republic 119-84 to clinch second place in Group A.

Also on Saturday, France beat Iran to secure first place in Group A, while Australia remained undefeated and Italy picked up a victory as well.

Along with a rundown of Saturday's scores in men's basketball, here is a breakdown of how each game played out.

Olympic Men's Basketball Saturday Scores

USA 119, Czech Republic 84

France 79, Iran 62

Italy 80, Nigeria 71

Australia 89, Germany 76

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Olympic Men's Basketball Saturday Recap

USA 119, Czech Republic 84

Led by Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant, Team USA closed out its group slate in winning fashion.

Durant scored 23 points, and none were bigger than this three-pointer in the second quarter:

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

The new <a href="https://twitter.com/TeamUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TeamUSA</a> men's Olympic scoring leader, <a href="https://twitter.com/KDTrey5?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KDTrey5</a>!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/usabasketball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@usabasketball</a> <a href="https://t.co/ft0u3LLH1o">pic.twitter.com/ft0u3LLH1o</a>

With that basket, KD not only gave the Americans a 34-33 lead after entering the second quarter down seven points, but he made Team USA history as well.

The trifecta gave Durant 339 career points at the Olympics, breaking the Team USA record of 336 previously held by Carmelo Anthony.

Peacock tweeted a highlight reel of Durant's performance Saturday:

Peacock @peacockTV

This man <a href="https://twitter.com/KDTrey5?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KDTrey5</a> CAN NOT MISS. <a href="https://twitter.com/usabasketball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USABasketball</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a> <a href="https://t.co/7PffjTIkzA">pic.twitter.com/7PffjTIkzA</a>

In addition to his 23 points, KD finished with eight rebounds and six assists in a dominant all-around performance.

Team USA got off to an uneven start, as has become customary at this tournament. The Americans turned things around in the second quarter, though, outscoring the Czechs by 11.

That four-point halftime lead ballooned to 22 in the third quarter, giving the Czech Republic no chance to mount a comeback in the final frame.

While Durant was the star, Team USA also got an encouraging performance from Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, who recorded a game-high 27 points.

The Czechs had four players score in double figures, including Chicago Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky with 12 points.

Team USA is now through to the knockout round as the No. 2 seed out of Group A, while the Czech Republic will wait to see if a quarterfinal appearance is in its future.

France 79, Iran 62

Without needing much from its top NBA stars, France breezed past Iran in its final game of group play. With the win, France remained undefeated at 3-0, won Group A and advanced to the quarterfinals.

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert managed just six points and four rebounds in 17 minutes, while Celtics wing Evan Fournier registered only three points, two rebounds and two assists in 14 minutes.

Still, France had four players score in double figures, with Thomas Heurtel (16 points), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (12), Nando de Colo (10) and Vincent Poirier (10) leading the way.

France was on cruise control for much of the game, racing out to a 22-17 lead and then taking a 19-point lead into halftime.

Former Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns center Hamed Haddadi was the lone bright spot for Iran, scoring a game-high 18 points to go along with 12 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals.

The overall numbers leaned heavily in France's direction, as it shot 49.2 percent from the field compared to 34.4 percent for Iran. France also won the rebounding battle 42-32 and outscored Iran by a 38-16 margin in the paint.

France's ability to easily defeat Iran while managing the minutes of its best players bodes well for its chances in the knockout round, especially with a win over the United States already under its belt.

While France will await its quarterfinal opponent, Iran is heading home with an 0-3 record.

Italy 80, Nigeria 71

Nigeria crashed out of the men's tournament, blowing a fourth-quarter lead to Italy.

While Nigeria fell behind 29-17 after one quarter, it battled back and got to within one point by halftime. Nigeria then outscored Italy 24-16 in the third to carry a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter.

It was at that point that Nigeria went cold from the field, however, and Italy seemingly couldn't miss a shot, outscoring the Nigerians 24-8 in the final frame.

Italy benefited from a balanced attack with five players scoring double figures. Former New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks forward Nicolo Melli led the way with 15 points, while Golden State Warriors guard Nico Mannion added 14 points.

Nigeria was more dependent on two specific players, with Sacramento Kings forward Chimezie Metu scoring a game-high 22 points and Milwaukee Bucks forward Jordan Nwora providing 20.

Both teams shot around 40 percent from the field, and Italy was surprisingly bad from beyond the arc, making just 25.8 percent of its 31 attempts.

Italy did go 16-of-19 from the free-throw line, however, while Nigeria went just 10-of-15. Italy also won the turnover battle 19-11 and scored 27 points off turnovers compared to nine for Nigeria.

Italy is through to the knockout stage as the second-place team in Group B with a 2-1 record, while Nigeria is going home after finishing 0-3.

Australia 89, Germany 76

Australia finished off an impressive run in the group stage to move its record to 3-0.

The Boomers were guided by San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills, who led all scorers with 24 points, knocking down five three-pointers and pitching in six assists.

Germany, which didn't get much out of NBA players Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga (11 points combined), must now play the waiting game.

Eurohoops broke down what Germany needs to happen to advance to the knockout stage:

Eurohoops @Eurohoopsnet

Germany will make the quarterfinals:<br><br>-If the USA beats the Czech Republic by two points or more<br>-If the Czech Republic wins by 63 points or more<br>-If Argentina beats Japan by 11 points or less<br>-If Japan wins by 29 points or less<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Tokyo2020?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Tokyo2020</a><a href="https://t.co/fkvpGZdMG4">https://t.co/fkvpGZdMG4</a> <a href="https://t.co/yA7S2KDYw0">pic.twitter.com/yA7S2KDYw0</a>

Even if Germany does make the quarters, it's unlikely the team would make much noise.

Germany shot the ball just 41.3 percent from the field compared to 50 percent for Australia. It also turned the ball over 18 times, while the Aussies committed only six turnovers.

Australia has never medaled in men's basketball at the Olympics despite consistently sending strong teams with plenty of NBA talent over the past several Games.

In Tokyo, the Aussies are not only a threat to medal but also a threat to win gold as well.

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