Sunday, April 21, 2024

Durant puts US in final


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ISTANBUL – Kevin Durant carried the United States into the gold-medal game at the World Championship, scoring a US-record 38 points yesterday in an 89-74 victory over Lithuania.
With a special 9/11 message on his sneakers, Durant soared over defenders or stepped away from them for three-pointers, scoring 17 in the first quarter to stake the Americans to an early lead that was never seriously challenged.
He went on to surpass Carmelo Anthony’s single-game record of 35 points and raise his average in the tournament to 22.1, which would be the best ever by a US player.
More importantly, he guaranteed the Americans a chance at their first world title since 1994.
There was some doubt this team was the one that could end the drought after all the superstars from the 2008 Olympic gold medallists declined to play this summer. But Durant kept saying yes, and he’s on the verge of going down as the most accomplished US player ever in this event.
Lamar Odom added 13 points and ten rebounds, while Andre Iguodala led the defensive effort that took Lithuania star Linas Kleiza right out of the game.
Durant posted a message on his Twitter page yesterday that read: “May God bless those who were affected by the events on Sept 11, 2001 – 9-11-01 on my shoes tonight – you guys will watch over us.”
Then he went out and dominated the first quarter, shooting at the basket in front of section 324, which was completely awash in Lithuania green and had fans banging drums and waving flags.
The teams met last month in an exhibition game in Madrid, and the US shot just 3 of 21 in the first quarter before rallying for a 77-61 victory. There would be no slow start this time.
Lithuania led by two midway through the first quarter before Durant seized the game, showing off his entire repertoire.
First there was a dunk, followed by a three-point play and two free throws. Iguodala briefly interrupted the Durant show with a dunk, then Durant scored on a follow shot and made a three-pointer.
In just three and a half minutes, he had taken the US from down two to up ten, and Lithuania never really recovered.
The Lithuanians hit their first eight three-pointers in their quarter-final victory over Argentina, but the outside shot wasn’t falling.
Robertas Javtokas had 15 points and nine rebounds for Lithuania, who lost for the first time and will play for bronze. (AP)


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