Kevin Durant powers Team USA's rout of Czech Republic on record night

SAITAMA, Japan -- The best thing Team USA had going for it this summer was Kevin Durant committing to play. On Saturday, he reminded everyone why.

On a night when he became the all-time leading American scorer in the Olympics, Durant added another tremendous performance to his Team USA résumé in a 119-84 victory over the Czech Republic.

The victory assured Team USA second place in its group and a place in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Its opponent and game time will be determined in a draw Sunday, with the only certainty being there cannot be a rematch with France until at least the semifinals.

Because of their two blowout wins in the last two games, Team USA will end up with a favorable position and avoid top medal contenders Australia, Spain and potentially even Luka Doncic-led Slovenia in the quarters.

Durant finished with 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting, which of course was important for the cause, but his playmaking and defense were just as helpful, as he put up eight rebounds and six assists. In the third quarter, he was masterful, scoring 10 points with four of his assists as it went from a tight game to a comfortable blowout.

He'd had a pedestrian start in Tokyo, scoring just 20 points total in the first two games and shooting just 40%. Even in the run-up games in Vegas, Durant wasn't moving at full speed as he admitted everything seemed like practice, and he shot just 43%. Then he fouled out of the opening loss to France, a key factor in the Americans' offensive struggles.

With Doncic, who scored 48 points in his first Olympic game, off to an impressive start and Australia's Patty Mills putting up great performances, Durant had faded into the background in the tournament's first week.

All that lethargy was gone Saturday as he looked for his shot early. The Czechs had gotten off to a strong start, making eight of their first 11 shots and building a 10-point lead. But Durant led a charge to overtake them, his 3-pointer in the second quarter giving the U.S. the lead for good.

It was a relevant basket, not just because it put the team in front but also because it pushed Durant (354 points) past Carmelo Anthony (336) for the all-time scoring lead.  Durant's international career is impeccable, including the 2010 World Cup in Turkey, where he established himself as a centerpiece of the national team for the next decade.

It was also a slump-breaker evening for Jayson Tatum, who had his best game of the summer with 27 points and five 3-pointers. Tatum, who was bothered by a minor knee injury in Vegas, had lost his starting spot. Coach Gregg Popovich had positioned him to be an impact scorer off the bench, but he was shooting just 40% in the first two games.

Jrue Holiday, who was again terrific defensively as he pressured the ball relentlessly and picked off three steals, had 11 points.

The Czechs were led by Blake Schilb, who played at Loyola Chicago, with 17 points.

In other action, Mills scored 24 points, Jock Landale added 18 and Australia pulled away for an 89-76 victory over Germany and an undefeated finish to group play. Nic Kay helped the Australians finally break free in a close game and finished with 16 points.

The Australians went 3-0 to win Group B, a balanced pool where they, Italy and Germany all played competitive games against each other.

Italy is headed back to the Olympic quarterfinals, ousting Nigeria to clinch that spot. Nicolo Melli scored 15 points, Nico Mannion had 14 and Italy used a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter to win 80-71 in the Group B men's basketball finale for both teams on Saturday.

Chimezie Metu scored 22 points and Jordan Nwora added 20 for Nigeria. The Nigerians opened the summer with exhibition wins over the U.S. and Argentina in Las Vegas, but went no further in their first Olympic appearance under coach Mike Brown.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events