Kevin Durant, Gregg Popovich react to Team USA’s 15-point comeback vs. Australia
Team USA looked dead in the water when Australia took a 41-26 lead in the second quarter of their Olympic semifinal match. Australia had already defeated Team USA in the exhibition slate, so they had full confidence in being able to beat them again.
However, Kevin Durant and Team USA’s suddenly ferocious defense saved the day. The Americans started getting a bunch of stops as KD scored at will, and then the rest of the buckets started pouring in during a second-half rout. The result was a 97-78 shellacking that sets up a gold-medal game against France.
To Durant’s credit, he never panicked. All these guys are used to erasing big deficits in the NBA, so it’s not like this was something new to them.
“We all been down 15 in games before, and came back — it don’t matter what level it’s at or where it’s at,” Durant said. “A lot of guys have been in that position before and we know how to handle ourselves. … A lot of guys on this team had straight faces and were ready to play when we were down 15. ‘Strong faces’ is what Pop said. And we kept our composure and we knew we could get back into the game pretty fast if we got stops and got out and ran.”
Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said the coaching staff just leveled with the players about how poorly they were playing, and they reacted perfectly:
“We just tell the truth. When we went down 15, I thought our defense was pretty poor, it kind of carried over to the offensive end, we were sort of, each of us was going to save the day. So the ball kind of stopped. And when we pointed it out, they reacted. The last five minutes of the second quarter, they were fantastic and continued into the third. I give them credit for understanding the game as well as they do, being able to accept the truth.”
Durant led the way for Team USA with 23 points. Devin Booker chipped in with 20 points, while the two Milwaukee Bucks on the team, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, were the other two players in double figures with 11 points apiece.
Team USA will face France on Friday night for gold. The French started these Olympics with a win over the Americans, so Team USA will be out for revenge.