The United States remained golden once again in Olympic basketball in Rio.

And they finally played like a dream team after sleepwalking through most of the men’s basketball tournament to rout Serbia 96-66 and lift the Olympic title for the sixth time in the past seven Games.

Just as he did four years ago in the final at London 2012, NBA superstar Kevin Durant led the charge with a game-high 30 points as the Americans seized control in the second quarter to repeat their victory over the Serbs in the 2014 World Cup final and make it 51 wins on the bounce.

It flowed against the tide of the USA’s previous appearances in Rio with three teams, the Serbs included, pushing them all the way to the wire with their immense talent undermined by a lack of coherence and the habitual wish of every opponent to be the one to take the most prized of scalps.

But with Serbia trailing only 19-15 late in the opening period, Durant finally hit a three-pointer after his team had missed their first six attempts and it was the ignition for their dominance. Their defence was outstanding, their passing perfect and their rivals simply had no response, with shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic ice cold from long range as the underdogs trailed 52-29 at half-time.

The Serbs, led by 14 points from Malaga guard Nemanja Nedovic, never remotely looked like reducing the deficit in shooting just 17 per cent from beyond the arc. And with Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins adding 13 points and 15 rebounds for the USA, it gave long-time coach Mike Krzyzewski the perfect send-off in his last game at the helm.

“It was a special moment for me,” said USA forward Carmelo Anthony, taking his third Olympic gold. “I know this is the end. This is it for me. I committed to this in ’04. I’ve seen the worst and I’ve seen the best. I’m here today three gold medals later. We fought. It wasn’t always pretty.”

Earlier, Pau Gasol scored 31 as Spain edged Australia 89-88 to take bronze as a controversial late call gave Philadelphia 76ers guard Sergio Rodriguez the chance to steal the medal by converting two decisive free throws with 5.4 seconds left.

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