ISTANBUL — The Americans' so-called men's "B team" turned out to be the best team in the world.
The United States won its first world championship since 1994, beating Turkey 81-64 Sunday behind another sensational performance from tournament MVP Kevin Durant.
Durant had 28 points, setting a record along the way for most in the tournament by a U.S. player (205 in nine games, 22.8 average). He left the court with 42 seconds left and shared a long hug with coach Mike Krzyzewski, who finally won the world title after his previous two attempts ended with bronze medals.
"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.
Lamar Odom added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Americans, who won gold in the worlds for the fourth time, doing so with a team that was no sure thing after coming to Turkey without the superstars from its Olympic gold-medal team.
With Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and company sitting home, this group was called a "B team," which the players were aware of and used as motivation.
And they came through where many of their bigger-name predecessors couldn't four years ago in Japan in the world championship, beginning to quiet a raucous crowd of about 15,000 midway through the second quarter with its defensive effort.
"I thought we rallied, and we became a little bit of an unconventional team," Krzyzewski said. "We thought we could win, we just felt it would be a lot harder, and they worked real hard and they made it happen."
Durant, who scored 33 and a U.S. single-game record 38 in the previous two games, again took care of the offense, qualifying the Americans for the 2012 Olympics.
Hedo Turkoglu of the Phoenix Suns scored 16 for the Turks, who were bidding for their first title.
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 one, as the United States 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 camp.
The United States 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.
The whistling was so loud when U.S. players were introduced that it was hard to make out the names. There were more whistles and boos every time the Americans had the ball in the early going, and the building was at its loudest when Turkoglu made consecutive 3-pointers to give Turkey its first lead at 15-14.