Olympics

Tokyo Olympics: Team USA find extra gear against Australia as quest for fourth-straight gold medal rolls on

#Popvich
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Team USA found an extra gear against Australia in their 97-78 semi-final win, a timely test ahead of the gold medal game.

After falling behind by 15 points in the second quarter, Team USA turned up the heat defensively, closing the second quarter on a 16-4 run, before dominating the third quarter 32-10.

TAKEAWAYS: Durant powers USA to comeback win

"They hit us with a nice punch," Kevin Durant said post-game. "We knew that team was going to get us down early and see how we'd respond."

"A lot of these guys have got continuity for years and years so they know how to play with each other, I feel like a lot of teams are expecting us to go forward early, [we] stuck with it, stuck with our principles, made a couple scheme switches on defence and we were able to get some momentum going into the half.

"Guys came out with that intensity and we made shots as well. So I feel like everything aligned for us in that second half, and that's who we are."

"Got to give credit to Australia because they came out, hit us with a nice haymaker and we were able to get back up and get that lead back."

The Boomers, who were out to make history and win the country's first-ever men's basketball gold medal couldn't have gotten off to a better start, hounding the USA on the defensive end with their energy and activity, but once Durant, who scored a game-high 23 points, sparked the comeback, they had no answers for USA's offensive onslaught.

After going down to France in their opening game, Team USA have improved with each game, with their chemistry on both ends of the floor coming together at the right time.

"It was a very good win against another outstanding basketball team with great culture and great tradition, the team that executes wonderfully, coaching staff is right on top of everything that they're doing," Gregg Popovich said post-game.

"They're like a machine and that really bothered us start of the game, I think we're down 14 or 15 and they just sliced and diced us, we looked like we had never played together before on the defensive end of the court, which in some respects is true I guess."

Australian veteran's Patty Mills and Joe Ingles were held quiet on the night, combining for 24 points as Team USA keyed in on the defensive end to slow down the Boomers' best offensive weapons.

For Popovich, it was somewhat of a bittersweet win, ending Mills' gold medal hopes. After spending 10 years in San Antonio under Popovich, Mills will be suiting up alongside Kevin Durant next season after joining the Boorklyn Nets in free agency, bringing down the curtain on his career with the Spurs.

"We've talked before about what a wonderful human being is, he's a really unique player...tonight our guys we're pretty special on him," Popovich added.

"But he has been special for the Spurs. He's moving on to Brooklyn now and we'll miss him a great deal. But I think it's a good move for him, he'll get to play for a team, that's going to be a contender and I'm thrilled with the victory, obviously, but when I looked him in the eyes, I felt badly because they do have great camaraderie and great history and culture, as I said, and they want it just as badly as any of us.

"So that was a little bit sad, but that's what we all do right? We all try to win."

Team USA will play the winner of the France-Slovenia semi-final on Friday, August 2 at 10:30 p.m. ET

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