Kevin Durant becomes Team USA’s all-time leading scorer as Americans clinch quarterfinal spot

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Kevin Durant played 53 minutes in his last NBA game just about a month ago. It was his first season coming off an Achilles tear, and, at 32 years old, Durant had a shortened offseason to recuperate.

Except he didn’t.

And now he’s the greatest men’s basketball scorer in U.S. Olympic history.

Durant set the mark in the second quarter of Team USA’s 117-84 victory over the Czech Republic, as part of his 23-point gem in a cakewalk win that clinched the Americans a spot in the quarterfinals. The record-breaking shot was vintage Durant — a hesitation dribble into a pull-up 3-pointer — pushing him past Carmelo Anthony for the top position.

It’s a strong Olympic list: 1) Durant, 2) Anthony, 3) LeBron James, 4) David Robinson, 5) Michael Jordan.

“[Durant] is the most talented player in the world,” Team USA assistant Steve Kerr said on the Peacock live stream of the game. “The guy just has incredible skill. When he gets going and gets aggressive, he just changes our team.”

“Kevin Durant can score at every level, however he wants,” added Peacock analyst Vince Carter.

Durant’s participation in Tokyo never seemed in doubt but his contemporaries took another route. He’s the last holdover from the 2012 Olympic squad, with LeBron, Chris Paul, James Harden and Anthony Davis all declining invitations.

Kevin Love was the other 2012 gold medalist on this Tokyo squad, but he quit after coming into camp unplayable.

“It didn’t work out. He wasn’t in shape,” Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo told reporters in Tokyo. “And he was way behind as it turned out. So you move on. Call it a mistake. Call it giving someone an opportunity. Someone who had equity with us. Guys who play for us get a little plus.”

Durant has had no such problems. There was scary moment in the third quarter, when he was sent flying to the floor by a hip check from a Czech (pun intended). But Durant popped up and then passed Anthony for first on the U.S. Olympic all-time free throw list.

After trailing by 7 after the first quarter and leading by just 4 at halftime, the Americans outscored the Czechs by 29 in the final 20 minutes — three days after pummeling Iran by 54 points. Durant shot 8-for-11 with nine rebounds in 28 minutes. Jayson Tatum added 27 points. The blowout sent a reminder that the U.S. has the most talent and the best player in the Olympics.

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