US beats Spain 82-76 in men's basketball, will play for gold

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Gone was the all-offense, all-action play that turned the last two gold-medal games into classics.

To obtain by Spain again, the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team would have to win ugly, so unusual it's practically un-American.

''It was just a real different game today,'' coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

p>Same result, though.

The U.S. advanced to its third straight gold-medal game win an 82-76 victory Friday, another tight matchup between the teams that met in the last two championship games.

Klay Thompson scored 22 points for the Americans, who will play Serbia on Sunday for their third consecutive Olympic title. Serbia beat Australia 87-61 in the second semifinal.

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Spain's Ricky Rubio, left, fights for a loose ball with United States' Kyrie Irving, right,  …

''This is where we wanted to be,'' Kevin Durant said. ''We talked approximately it all summer & to be here for the final game, to win the gold, for all the marbles, we like our chances.''

The Americans pulled away to win 118-107 in 2008 & held on for a 107-100 victory in London, yet the defenses made their mark in this one. The U.S. was just satisfactory enough again against Spain, with bodies falling more than shots & several technical fouls keeping the teams from finding an offensive flow.

It certainly wasn't pretty, yet Olympic gold never loses its luster.

''It's an astonishing feeling now,'' center DeAndre Jordan said. ''We really want to accomplish this.''

It was the lowest-scoring game for the Americans in the Olympics since the 2004 semifinals, when they managed 81 in a loss to Argentina.

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United States' Klay Thompson (11) drives past Spain's Sergio Llull, right, during a semifina …

But Jordan made his presence felt in the middle with 16 rebounds & four blocked shots to go with his nine points.

Durant added 14 points on the day he moved past LeBron James into second place on the U.S. Olympic career scoring list. Kyrie Irving had 13 for the U.S.

Pau Gasol scored 23 points for Spain, which made it tough on the Americans for the third straight Olympics, yet again had to settle for coming close against the world's No. 1 team.

''I think the key of the game was their defense,'' Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said. ''Their athleticism, their size, they made our offense obtain difficult during most of the possessions.''

Gasol said after he believed Spain missed its best chance to beat the U.S.

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United States' DeAndre Jordan (6) celebrates in front of Spain's Pau Gasol, right, after dun …

''They are not playing as well as other times they've played, yet they are still a very talented team individually,'' Gasol said. ''I just (feel) like if we had been a little sharper with our shots, if we would have moved the ball a little better, if we would have boxed out more, & make it a two- or three-possession game, then you're talking approximately a whole different story.''

Spain shot just 39 percent & couldn't obtain any consistent option other than Gasol, who played with a wrap covering his sore right calf.

It was the kind of defense the Americans thought they could play yet hadn't much in the tournament. Serbia & France both surpassed 90 points against them & Australia scored 88, as the team with 10 Olympic newcomers took longer than hoped in grasping international offenses.

This time they contained a team that was as explosive as themselves over the last four games, as Spain had averaged 97.3 points & won by more than 25 per game after dropping its first two in Brazil.

The Americans finally built a comfortable lead when they opened the fourth quarter with six straight points to go ahead 72-57. But Spain was able to keep the gap from getting any bigger & chipped away at it in the final minutes, the margin ending up smaller than in the previous matchups.

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Spain's Sergio Rodriguez, left, drives up court past United States' Kyrie Irving, right, dur …

Spain came to the Olympics an aging team without one of its top players, Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, who couldn't make it back from a broken right foot sustained during the season. But the Spanish, as they had in the previous two Olympics, found their stride just in time to run into the Americans.

Thompson scored 17 in the first half, including a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left that made it 45-39 at the break.

Both teams were called for multiple technical fouls in the tense first half. One of them, on Durant, gave him a third foul, as technicals moreover count as personal fouls in international play. Nikola Mirotic then picked up a personal & technical on the same play after in the period, sending him to the bench with four after he led Spain with 23 points in its quarterfinal rout of France.

The Americans were far off their usual offensive play, shooting only 42 percent for the game & complaining approximately a wet ball in the first half. But they grabbed 21 offensive rebounds in their 24 straight Olympic victory.

Now they need one more to stay on top.

''You want to obtain there,'' two-time gold medalist Carmelo Anthony said. ''You want to have that feeling.''

Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney

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