FIBA World Championship

Durant's 38 points sets U.S. record, propels Americans into title game

"To play on this day was a great honor ," American Kevin Durant said of playing the semifinal on Sept. 11. (Thanassis Stavrakis)
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Associated Press
Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wearing a special Sept. 11 memorial message on his sneakers, Kevin Durant carried the United States into the gold medal game at the FIBA World Championship, scoring a U.S.-record 38 points Saturday in an 89-74 victory over Lithuania in Istanbul.

"I just wanted to remember everybody back in the States, everybody that was affected by 9/11," Durant said. "And to play on this day was a great honor and we just tried to do our best to play hard for our country and our families."

Durant soared over defenders or stepped away from them for three-pointers, scoring 17 points in the first quarter to stake the Americans to an early lead that was never seriously challenged.

He surpassed Carmelo Anthony's single-game record of 35 points and raised his tournament average to 22.1, which would be the best ever by a U.S. player.

"I've seen him score 45, 35, back-to-back," guard and NBA teammate Russell Westbrook said. "It doesn't surprise me at all what he's been doing."

More importantly, Durant guaranteed the Americans a chance at their first world title since 1994. They will play Sunday against Turkey, which beat Serbia, 83-82, in the other semifinal.

The Americans will have to overcome the raucous home fans of the Turks, who also are undefeated after their last-second victory. The Sinan Erdem Dome has been a sea of red during Turkey's games and will provide the toughest atmosphere a U.S. team has faced in years.

"That's what we came here to do," guard Eric Gordon said before the Americans knew their opponent. "We're a young team and we fight through a lot of adversity and that's what we're here for, to win the gold."

Durant posted a Twitter message on Saturday that read: "May God bless those who were effected by the events on Sept 11, 2001. . . . 9-11-01 on my shoes tonight. . . you guys will watch over us."

Then he went out and dominated the first quarter, shooting at the basket in front of section 324, which was awash in Lithuania green and filled with fans banging drums and waving flags.

Lamar Odom added 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Andre Iguodala led the defensive effort that took Lithuania star Linas Kleiza right out of the game.

"They did a great job on our leader, Linas Kleiza. We couldn't find a solution on their star Kevin Durant," Lithuania Coach Kestutis Kemzura said. "He was unstoppable today."

l TURKEY 83, SERBIA 82: Semih Erden blocked a last-second shot to seal Turkey's win.

Following a turnover by Phoenix Suns forward Hedo Turkoglu, Novica Velickovic dribbled in for an open layup with a half-second left only to be denied by Erden.

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