Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Team USA has advanced to the Olympic gold medal finals in men's basketball with a lopsided win against the Australians on Thursday that saw them erase a 15-point deficit to win by 19.
Kevin Durant, 32, led the Americans with 23 points and Devin Booker, 24, had 20 of his own in a game the Americans trailed during the first half before turning it on in the second to win 97-78 at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo.
The Australians dominated the Americans early, smothering the U.S. offense with strong positional play in the defensive zone. The only American seemingly able to score was Durant, who made four baskets in the first 10 minutes.
The Australians embraced a fast-paced game, moving the ball around that left the Americans standing still and watching the play, which created opportunities for the Aussies to drive the basket and throw unimpeded 3-point shots, earning them a 6-point lead after the first frame.
They continued the pressure into the second, extending their lead to 9 early that they would grow to 15 just after the halfway mark of the frame with Dante Exum, 26, throwing a lay up to Jock Landale, 25, for the dunk, giving the Aussies a 41-26 lead.
The frustration of the Americans was noticeable with players shaking their heads and fouling the Australians in the defensive zone.
They have started slow in these Olympics before, including in the semifinals in their 95-81 victory over Spain on Tuesday.
And like the game against Spain, the Americans began to heat up in the second with Durant pulling the team out of the malaise by chipping away at the Aussies' lead, ending the frame 45-42 for Australia.
In the third, it was all Team USA, who took the lead early with a couple of baskets from Jrue Holiday, 31.
The Americans would then go on a 10-point run before Landale would get the Australians' first point of the frame nearly 4 minutes in.
Team USA would then extend their lead to 19 points by the end of the quarter, scoring 30 to Australia's 10 with Durant getting some offense from Booker and Jason Tatum, 23.
The fourth and final quarter was much of the same, with the Americans extending their lead to 20 points with 4 minutes left, representing a 35-point turnaround for a score of 88-68.
The United States will now play for their fourth straight Olympic gold medal on Saturday when they will face the winner of France and Slovenia, who are set to take to the court later Thursday.