Although Team USA came into the contest unbeaten in the tournament, France made their competition look vulnerable throughout the match-up. The Frenchmen used their size and chemistry to their advantage and outplayed the Americans by nearly every metric.
Donovan Mitchell and Evan Fournier went toe-to-toe in the first quarter, trading baskets and scoring the game’s first 10 points. Kemba Walker tried to get himself going but found little success with Frank Ntilikina manning the perimeter and Rudy Gobert patrolling the paint.
The United States struggled to create shot opportunities in the second period and relied heavily on Mitchell to stay within arms reach of the lead. Despite 15 points from the Utah Jazz star, Team USA entered the half trailing 39-45.
Fournier and Gobert scored 13 points apiece through two quarters, and former San Antonio Spur Nando De Colo added another 7 points to the boxscore. France out-rebounded the U.S. 21-12 in the first half and turned their 6 offensive boards into 9 second-chance points.
Donovan Mitchell picked up right where he left off and torched the French defense for 15 points in the third quarter. His herculean effort gave the United States a lead heading into the final frame, but they couldn’t hang on to their momentum.
After the Americans built a 74-67 lead early in the fourth quarter, France responded by going on a 22-5 run to end the contest. Mitchell fell silent, Walker forced the issue, and four straight missed free throws from Marcus Smart put a dagger in the Americans Gold Medal aspirations.
Mitchell’s 29 points were the lone highlight for a sputtering American offense. The French were precise, calculated and efficient in their attack as Gobert, Fournier and Nando De Colo combined for 61 points on just 39 total shot attempts.
Although Derrick White wasn’t much of a factor in this one, he made the most of his 9 minutes of action. The San Antonio Spurs breakout postseason performer tallied 4 points, 2 steals and one dunk on an intelligent cut to the basket.
The United States won’t medal for the first time since 2002, however, there are still two games remaining on their World Cup schedule. Team USA is set to take on Serbia in a “classification game” tomorrow at 6AM CT on ESPN+.
They will then follow that up with a match-up for 5th or 7th place depending on the results of the first contest.