Kevin Durant’s Record Setting Performance Leads USA To 89-74 Win Over Lithuania
Sept. 11, 2010 • Istanbul, Turkey
There was no stopping Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) and the U.S. rode his record setting 38 point performance to earn an 89-74 win over previously unbeaten Lithuania (7-1) Saturday night in World Championship semifinals play. The win advanced the Americans into Sunday’s 2010 FIBA World Championship gold medal game.
Durant, who had 17 of the USA’s 23 first quarter points to single-handedly outscore Lithuania over the first 10 minutes, rewrote three USA World Championship single game records and tied another. His 38 points established a new USA scoring high, improving on the previous record of 35 points that was set by Carmelo Anthony (versus Italy, 8-23-06). Additionally, Durant set U.S. World Championship records for made field goals with 14, bettering the previous record of 13 that was set by five players and last done by Dwyane Wade (versus Argentina, 9-2-06); and his 25 attempted field goals set a new record, bettering the previous mark of 21 set by Kenny Anderson (vs. Greece, 8-8-90) and Billy Owens (vs. Greece, 8-8-90). He also tied a USA record for 3-point field goals attempted with 12, the mark was originally set by Mark Price (versus Greece, 8-13-94).
“I was just trying to be aggressive. That’s all. I was trying to make some shots and my teammates, they kept looking for me. It’s not all me. It’s how they play and I just feed off it,” Durant said of his record setting night.
“When a guy is doing that well, you have to keep getting him the ball,” said USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University). “His teammates were looking for him all the time and we kept telling him, ‘keep shooting, keep shooting’, which says a lot for the guys on our team. All they are concerned with is trying to win. He just had an incredible scoring night.”
The USA will face host and undefeated Turkey (8-0) in Sunday’s gold medal game (9:30 p.m. local time). Turkey scored with .05 seconds left in the game to claim the 83-82 win.
It’s been 16 years since the USA played in World Championship gold medal game. The last time the U.S. did so was 1994 when the U.S., led by Shaquille O’Neal, Reggie Miller and Dominique Wilkins, dominated the worlds and finished 8-0 to capture the world championship title.
“We told our team coming in that they (Lithuania) will play every possession and never give up. We have to play as hard as they did. I thought tonight we did play as hard as they did. It showed in our defense. I think Andre’s defense was a key part of this game,” said Coach K.
The USA trailed 11-9 with 5:22 to play in the opening stanza and Lithuania did not score another field goal the remainder of the quarter while Durant poured in 10 points during a 12-0 USA run that left the U.S. leading 21-11 with 2:14 left in the quarter.
Up 23-12 after the first 10 minutes, the U.S. opened a 29-14 lead following an offensive tip by Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers).
Lithuania got eight points from former Duke guard Martynas Pocius and outscored the U.S. 11-4 to slash the American’s advantage to eight points, 33-25.
The USA regained control and closed the half with a 9-2 offensive spurt. Fueled by five points from Durant and four from that Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder), the Americans pushed ahead 42-27.
Lithuania struggled to get its shots to fall in the first half and made just 9-of-36 tries, including 3-of-12 from 3-point.
The U.S. lead was cut to 10, 50-40, with 5:42 to play in the third following a 3-pointer from Mantas Kalnietis, but the USA, getting points from four different players, went on a 9-0 run and with 3:09 left in the third quarter had it largest lead of the night, 59-40.
The U.S. entered the fourth quarter holding a 65-53 lead and with 5:53 left in the game it the scoreboard read 73-62 in favor of the Americans.
Durant stepped up again and closed the deal for the U.S. Hitting a mid-distance jumper, then following a pair of free throws from Westbrook, Durant hit a 3-pointer to score his 36th point, and he finished off his night’s production with a jumper to push the USA ahead 84-67.
Durant in addition to posting big scoring numbers, also brought down nine rebounds. He was complimented on his record setting night by Odom, who finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, and by Westbrook’s 12 points and seven rebounds. Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers) finished with nine points, four rebounds and four steals, and played a major role in shutting down Lithuania’s leading scorer Linas Kleiza, who will play for the NBA Toronto Raptors in 2010-11. Kleiza, who came into the game averaging a Lithuania best 19.1 points a game, was limited to four points on 1-of-11 shooting.
“The coaches pretty much send me out to slow down the #1 guy on the team as far as their scorer,” said Iguodala who leads the U.S. team in steals averaging 2.0 steal per game. “Tonight, I just tried to make it tough for him. There are great ball players all across the world and you’re not going to stop all of them, but if you make it tough for them, maybe you’ll wear them down, start making them think about it.”
In Saturday’s game to determine the seventh place finisher, Russia (6-3) finished strong to take an 83-78 victory over Slovenia (5-4).
The 2010 USA World Championship Team assistant coaches are Syracuse University’s Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan and Toronto Raptors head mentor Jay Triano.
The 2010 FIBA (International Basketball Federation) World Championship for Men is being held Aug. 28-Sept. 12 in Istanbul, Turkey. Twenty-four teams competed in the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Men.