Durant Powers U.S. to First World Baskebtall Title in 16 Years

By Michael Preston
|  Monday, Sep 13, 2010  |  Updated 4:20 AM PDT
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ISTANBUL - SEPTEMBER 12: Chauncey Billups (L), Kevin Durant (C) and Derrick Rose of USA with the gold medals following win in the final game against Turkey at the 2010 Basketball World Championships on September 12, 2010 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Roman Kruchinin/Epsilon/Getty Images)

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One of the NBA's most non-descript superstars completed his arrival on the international stage with another strong performance that netted America its first world basketball championship since 1994.

Oklahoma City power forward Kevin Durant dropped in 28 points to lead the U.S. over Turkey in Istanbul, gathering the tournament MVP award in the process and cemeting his status as one of the great young players of his generation.

Durant, who also set the record for most points scored by a U.S. player at the event, lead what has become known as America's "B-Team" to medal glory.

"Our only option was to come out here and get a gold, and it feels really good to bring this back home to the States," Durant said.

This particular U.S. team doesn't have the star power of the squad that dominated the 2008 Summer Olympics. There's no Dwyane Wade, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant to be found, but it became clear that this collection of stars worked well together as a unit and complimented each other's skill sets well.  

Lakers center Lamar Odom chipped in 15 points and 11 rebounds and collected his fourth gold medal for the U.S.

Hedo Turkoglu of the Phoenix Suns scored 16 points for the Turks, who were bidding for their first title and were boosted by huge crowd support, with fans in red filling most of the 15,000-seat Sinan Erdem Dome.

Lithuania beat Serbia for the bronze earlier in the day.

Durant scored 20 in the first half, then hit consecutive 3-pointers early in the third quarter, yelling at Turkish fans sitting courtside and pounding his chest after the second, as the U.S. quickly extended a 10-point halftime lead.

The Americans already knew they'd be bringing a different team to Turkey after all the gold medalists from the 2008 Olympics opted to take this summer off. Then All-Star forwards Amare Stoudemire and David Lee were forced to withdraw on the opening day of training camp.

The U.S. was left with a young, undersized team, featuring six players 22 or younger and only one true center in Tyson Chandler, who quickly became a backup when forward Odom was installed as the starter.

So this team simply rode Durant to the gold medal. The NBA scoring champion made seven 3-pointers against Turkey, often pulling up from places that were simply too far away for its zone to reach, and the Americans outrebounded the Turks 42-34.

"This team had a lot of character and poise," Odom said. "A lot of people thought we were undersized and we didn't have a center, we didn't have too many big guys. People thought we were going to get killed on the inside, but we played tough, hung in there, and stayed strong, focused."

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