Klay Thompson scored 30 points (7/13 3-Pt) Sunday as Team USA starved off a spirited effort from France to escape with a 100-97 victory in the final game of the preliminary round at the Rio Olympics.
The French team, ranked No. 2 in the FIBA World Rankings, were missing point guard and team captain Tony Parker, who is currently nursing a toe injury. Despite Parker’s absence, the French fought tooth-and-nail with the Americans, outscoring them 28-19 in the fourth quarter. |Final Box Score|
While Kevin Durant hit a perfect 6/6 from the field for his 17 points, Carmelo Anthony had a poor outing, going 4/11 from the field and missing 5 of his 7 three-point attempts. If not for the efficiency of Durant and Thompson, now teammates at Golden State Warriors, Team USA would have likely lost.
For France, the backcourt pairing of Nando de Colo and Thomas Heurtel led the way with 18 points apiece while Charlotte Hornets star Nicolas Batum dropped 14 points. The French frontcourt of Rudy Gobert and Boris Diaw added 6 and 5 points respectively while the former protected the rim with efficiency.
Klay Thompson, KD save Team USA
After the narrow victory, Durant conceded that his team had to up their game heading into the knockout stages. “Obviously everybody wants us to win by a lot of points, but it’s not how it’s gonna go this time. “We’ve gotta be prepared for a grind-out game. I think we showed the last three games we can grind it out.”
Team USA, which is missing superstars such as Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, has shockingly underwhelmed at Rio. After nearly losing to Australia and Serbia in the previous two games, they were once again pushed to the brink by France.
Paul George, who was benched in favor of Thompson on Sunday, said that his team wasn’t expecting a cakewalk. “This isn’t a tournament that we’re going to just dominate. There’s talent around this world and they’re showcasing it. For us, it’s just figuring out how we’re going to win. We’re having spurts of dominating, but we’re just not finding ways to put a full 40 minutes together.”
French veteran Diaw said that it was difficult to write off Team USA despite their recent struggles. “They haven’t been dominating, but they haven’t lost either. They’re still unbeaten, so we can’t say that they’re struggling.”
Klay Thompson and Team USA will now face Spain in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.