USA wins gold in Basketball World Cup with 129-92 rout of Serbia

Written By kolimtiga on Senin, 15 September 2014 | 12.56

Kyrie Irving made all six three-point shots and scored 26 points, and the U.S. repeated as world champion for the first time by crushing Serbia, 129-92, on Sunday in the Basketball World Cup.

James Harden added 23 points for the Americans, who made 11 of 16 three-point shots in a sensational-shooting first half, adding one final romp to a tournament full of them.

The Americans were supposed to have All-Star forwards Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin, who all informed USA Basketball not long before the tournament that they would be unavailable. Neither was LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony or Kobe Bryant there.

This depleted team that was supposedly weak enough to lose was too good to be touched.

"It kind of was, again, a smack to our face, saying the U.S. was sending the B-team to go play in the World Cup," forward Kenneth Faried said. "Just because LeBron's not here, Kobe's not here, Durant's not here, doesn't mean anything. We can step up and win the gold too. That's what we did tonight."

But Irving — the tournament most valuable player — and Harden stuck around, and despite sending the youngest U.S. team since NBA players debuted in 1992, the Americans remained as dominant as ever.

"Obviously we didn't have a very close game all tournament, but for that to happen we had to play hard for 40 minutes and not relax and not give any inch while we were out there," guard Stephen Curry said.

The U.S. has won 63 straight games — 45 in official FIBA events and 18 in exhibition play — and is automatically qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

It was the fifth world title for the Americans, tying Yugoslavia for the most all time. And the second for Derrick Rose, who used this tournament as his return after sitting out most of the last two seasons after a pair of knee surgeries, along with Curry and Rudy Gay.

It was the first medal for Serbia, which had been a part of Yugoslavia when it won five. The Yugoslavians had been the last repeat champions, winning in 1998 and 2002.

The Serbians were only 2-3 in the group stage but then routed previously unbeaten Greece and Brazil before building a big lead and holding on for a 90-85 semifinal victory over France, which had beat them in the group stage and knocked out tournament co-favorite Spain in the quarters.

Serbia carried that momentum into the early moments of this one and was running a fluid offense that produced layups and dunks, and opened the biggest lead any team had against the U.S. in this tournament when Miroslav Raduljica's three-point play made it 15-7.

That was wiped out in a minute, and Serbia's hopes of winning didn't last much longer.

Harden had a three-point play and three-pointer, DeMarcus Cousins tied it with a pair of free throws, and then Irving had a jump shot, three-pointer and layup to cap a 15-0 burst that made it 22-15.

Irving hit a couple more threes in an 11-0 run later in the quarter that provided a 35-19 cushion, and the Americans poured it on midway through the second in making it 56-30 after back-to-back threes by Irving and Harden.

France beat Lithuania, 95-93, on Saturday for the bronze.

The Americans came in winning by 32.5 points per game and their closest victory in the tournament was by 21 points over Turkey. They thought they would get a tough game Sunday, but were simply too good to let that happen.

They finished at 58% from the field, made 15 of 30 three-pointers and put eight of their 12 players in double figures.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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