Klay Thompson came to Team USA’s rescue for the second time in this Olympic basketball tournament when he scored a team-high 22 points in an 82-76 semifinal victory over Spain on Friday.
The Americans go for their third consecutive gold today in the final against Serbia, which defeated Australia in the semis. Tip off is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. PT. You can watch it live on NBC or via NBC’s streaming service.
Cougs Aron Baynes and Brock Motum will be looking for a bronze medal against Spain in a game that tips off at 7:30 a.m. PT.
Although Team USA is undefeated in the tournament, the Americans haven’t always looked like a well-oiled machine, and the veteran Spaniards played a role in that on Friday. Featuring a number of current and future NBA players — with virtually the same roster as the 2012 games — Spain was able to slow the game down and force the United States into piles of contested jumpers.
The strategy proved to be wise, as most of the Americans struggled to find their range — particularly Carmelo Anthony, who had been playing well, but finished 2-of-11.
But just as he did against France, Thompson came up huge again. With Spain pulling to within three at 33-30 in the second quarter, Thompson scored seven of USA’s final 12 points of the half to keep Spain at bay, 45-39 at the break. All told, he was 6-of-10 from the field — including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc — to score 16 first-half points.
He was relatively quiet scoring wise in the second half, but his stellar defense on a number of players was invaluable in a game in which coach Mike Krzyzewski tilted toward defense with his rotations due to so many shooters having difficulties. (DeAndre Jordan also was spectacular in that regard, grabbing 16 rebounds, blocking four shots, and throwing down a ferocious, semi-human dunk that I’d love to show you but you’ll probably never see because of NBC’s arcane approach to copyright law.)
Spain never seriously threatened in the second half, but it was due in no small part to Thompson’s efforts that the Americans kept the Spaniards at arm’s length.
“I know my shot will come,” Klay said after the game. “I just let my defense carry my offense. When you play hard on that end, good things will happen throughout the game for you.”
The United States might want to make sure to bring its A Game against the Serbs, who put a whipping on the Boomers, 87-61. The Americans edged past Serbia in group play, 94-91.
The Aussies struggled mightily to score, falling behind 24-10 with just under seven minutes to go in the first half, and it never got better. Baynes finished with 7 points and 8 rebounds. One side benefit of the blowout is that Brock Motum got extensive action, scoring 13 points in 11 second-half minutes on 5-of-8 shooting.