Beijing, China (Sports Network) - The defense withered, allowing the most points ever scored against an American group in a men's Olympic basketball game, yet the Redeem Team accomplished its goal in Beijing with a spectacular offensive performance on Sunday.
Yes, the U.S. is back atop the basketball world.
Dwyane Wade scored 27 points and Kobe Bryant added 20, including 13 in the final quarter, to guide the United States to a 118-107 win over a depleted, but enthusiastic, Spain squad in the gold medal game.
"This feels great," said Wade. "We haven't won gold in eight years. A lot of people doubted that NBA stars could play together."
Before Sunday the most points the U.S. men allowed in an Olympic game was 96, and that was an eight-point win over Lithuania in the bronze medal game four years ago.
Despite the defensive woes, the offense was spectacular for Mike Krzyzewski's team, going 13-of-28 from three-point range and shooting 60 percent overall.
"After I got into foul trouble early, I played a little cautious," said Bryant. "But in the fourth quarter, Coach K told me to let that momma loose, and that's what I tried to do."
Rudy Fernandez had 22 points and Pau Gasol 21 for Spain, which was within four points late in the final quarter.
The U.S. beat Spain, 119-82, in pool play, but despite the loss of guard Jose Calderon (groin), the Spanish team hung with the team chock full of NBA All- Stars and nearly pulled an incredible upset.
Since the introduction of the Dream Team in 1992, the U.S. had won every gold medal in men's basketball until the bump in the road in Athens four years ago. Then came a bronze finish at the 2006 world championships. Sunday though brought redemption.
A left wing three-pointer from Fernandez had Spain within 91-89 less than two minutes into the final quarter, capping nine straight points for his team.
The U.S. showed its resolve and pushed the lead back to 11 midway through the fourth on a layup by LeBron James, but Spain came charging back again, getting within 108-104 on a Carlos Jimenez three-ball from the right corner with 2:25 remaining.
Wade then spotted up and drained a big three from the left side, and Jimenez misfired on a long-distance shot. After a Juan Carlos Navarro free throw, Bryant's runner in the lane and two free throws from Chris Paul with 47.7 seconds left had the spread at 115-105, effectively sealing the win as the Americans breathed a sigh of relief.
James added 14 points, while Paul and Carmelo Anthony each added 13 in the victory.
"We've been so blessed with this opportunity," said James. "It's so rewarding to see your hard work pay off."
Navarro had 18 points, while Jimenez had 12, Marc Gasol 11 and Felipe Reyes 10 for Spain.
"We were close, they were a bit concerned," said Marc Gasol. "But Kobe and Dwyane got the ball and they were hot."
The medal was the 109th of the Beijing Games for the USA, its most in a full participation Olympic Games. The gold medal was the 36th for the United States in Beijing, matching the total received at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Navarro's free throw expanded Spain to a 22-17 lead with 4:18 left in the opening quarter, but the U.S. put in the next nine points to take the lead for good.
Paul converted a three-point play to start the run and it ended on Wade's fast-break basket.
Wade's three-pointer in the final seconds of the opening stanza expanded the margin to 38-31 and the U.S. continued to fire at will from long distance in the second, starting with one from Bryant.
The lead grew to as many as 14 in the second, at 58-44 following a James three-ball, but Spain battled back to close within 69-61 at the break.
The fast-break style kept the game close throughout much of the third quarter until the U.S. gained a double-digit lead in the closing two minutes
Argentina won the bronze medal, defeating Lithuania despite the absence of its best player. Manu Ginobili, a star player for the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, missed the bronze medal game with inflammation in the left ankle, but his country was still able to post an 87-75 victory over the Lithuanians.
Carlos Delfino picked up the slack with Ginobili out, as he led the Argentines with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Luis Scola added 16 points and Andres Nocioni chipped in 14 despite being hampered by a quadriceps injury.
Ramunas Siskauskas led Lithuania with 15 points and Rimantas Kaukenas added 14.
This marks the second-ever Olympic medal for Argentina in men's basketball after winning gold four years ago in Athens. Lithuania, which won bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Games, was also seeking its second medal.
08/24 09:44:03 ET