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CAPTAIN AMERICA! Kevin Durant leads Team USA to win, capturing his third Olympic gold medal in Tokyo

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games - Day 15 - Basketball Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

He IS Kevin Durant! That goes without saying, but Kevin Durant is also now “Captain America.” Fresh off agreeing to a four-year, $198 million max extension with Brooklyn on Friday morning, KD got the job done once again to lead Team USA to their fourth straight Olympic gold on Friday night, beating France in a close game at the Tokyo Games. It was Durant’s third Olympic gold, tying Carmelo Anthony’s men’s basketball record. KD also won the gold in the FIBA World Cup in 2010.

Despite a winding and often frustrating road that included two losses in exhibition games and a loss to France in the Olympics’ opening round, the U.S. got their revenge and that elusive gold. Final score, Team USA, 87, France, 82. It was yet another Olympic gold medal game that featured a memorable Durant performance.

“It’s winning time,” said Durant post-game. “It’s one game where you go home, it’s no series. I’ve gotta give my all every second I’m out there and I prepare the right way. I’ve just gotta go out there and trust that work. I was able to knock down some shots to keep us afloat a little bit. In the fourth quarter (Damian Lillard) took over for us and guys made plays at the end.”

Cameras caught KD at the center of Team USA’s celebrations...

Durant is no stranger to dominating when Olympic gold is up for grabs. The Nets superstar scored 30 points against Spain in the 2012 London Olympic gold medal game and 30 points against Serbia in the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medal game. Four years later in Tokyo was no different. He may have scored “only” 29 this time, but his performance was even greater. He saved the day for the USA.

Durant was the driving force and paved the way to gold with a dominant 29-point performance on 9-of-18 shooting from the field and 3-of-9 from three. The Nets superstar recorded six rebounds, three assists, and one block in the gold medal victory, but it didn’t come easy.

“He’s phenomenal,” Bam Adebayo said of his teammate.

“KD is not special because he’s so talented. The way he works on his game is more impressive,” added his coach, Gregg Popovich. “The joy he has in playing, it’s like osmosis. It goes into the other players.”

2020 Tokyo Olympics: USA v France Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

The Americans missed nine of their first 11 shots but overcame their typical stuttering start. They finished the first quarter with a slim 22-18 advantage. It was all KD. With the USA down 12-8, Durant scored 10 straight points, including the USA’s first score from behind the arc.

Once again, he showed that he can score from anywhere, take over anytime. In the second quarter, though, the Americans were more aggressive on defense and played the French tighter, wiser. The revamped intensity allowed Gregg Popovich to provide Durant with a quick rest that certainly paid off.

Team USA’s all-time leading scorer heated up in the second, delivering 21 first-half points by halftime, followed by Jayson Tatum with 11 points off the bench. Despite the onslaught by Durant and Tatum, France trimmed the Americans’ 13-point deficit to only five points to hit the half trailing, 44-39.

The Americans opened the third with a quick offensive surge to boost their advantage to 56-45 after a signature pull-up three from Durant over the outstretched arms of Rudy Gobert. Although France responded and remained in the game, Durant seemingly had an answer every time to help grow Team USA’s lead to 14 with a minute left in the third and take a 71-63 advantage heading into the fourth.

It was a dicey fourth quarter with France hanging around, battling with hopes of taking a late lead and steal the gold. France cut the lead to 85-82 with 10.2 seconds remaining but Durant sealed the deal with two free throws to capture the Americans’ fourth straight gold and his third.

How dominant is Durant in the Olympics? Check out this graphic from SB Nation...

For France, Rudy Gobert finished with 16 points and eight rebounds for France before fouling out in the finals seconds of the game.

Post-game, teammates past and present offered their congratulations on social media ...led by James Harden who played with KD in OKC as well as Brooklyn...

And minutes after the game, walking to the locker room with Draymond Green, KD offered his own comments on those who doubted him and his team...

“Everybody who said we were going to take the L…They had some power rankings out, they had us fourth behind Slovenia,” Durant said. “Come on, man. Talking about they’re catching up to us, like, are you serious? This skill is unmatched, you dig?”

Indeed, FIBA had Team USA behind Australia, France, and Slovenia

Durant’s Nets teammate, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot finished with 11, helping keep Les Bleus close and earning a silver medal in the process. On Saturday morning, new Net Patty Mills will try to help Australia win the Boomers first medal in men’s basketball when they face Slovenia and Luka Doncic. That game will start at 7 a.m. and be televised on the USA Network. The medal ceremony will follow the conclusion of that game.