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  • 02:18 AM ET  08.24

Full time: A noble effort from the Spanish in making Team USA buckle down and earn its gold in the most enthralling Olympic final in history: United States 118, Spain 107 [BOX SCORE]. The reigning world champs trailed by just two points in the fourth quarter, but the U.S. used a 13-3 burst to take command and complete the redemption story. Sharing today's game ball are Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, who combined for 47 points and eight assists in the winning effort -- with each player demonstrating their trademark brand of mettle during gut-check time. For Spain, Rudy Fernandez (22 points) and Pau Gasol (21) paced six Spanish players in double figures. Make sure to log onto SI.com on Monday for our Post-Olympic Power Rankings, which will assuredly find the Redeemed Team at the top of the table. Thanks to everybody who stopped by tonight despite the ungodly tip time and we'll see you in London 2012! 

0:00.0, 4th: Some sloppy endgame doesn't damper the electric environment at the Wukesong Indoor Stadium, where chants of U-S-A, U-S-A ring through the crowd.

0:26.1, 4th: Rubio fouls Chris Paul, who will head to the line for two shots ... but Ricky Rubio's just been issued a technical foul. The U.S. will get four foul shots and the ball. The American players are already celebrating on the bench as Spain unravels on the court.

0:35.1, 4th: Marc Gasol puts in a lay-up to cut it to 115-107. 

1:00, 4th: Kobe Bryant drains a running jumper at the 1:11 mark to open the lead to 113-105. Navarro misses on the other end and Spain's got to make this thing a foul shooting contest. 

1:52, 4th: Navarro draws a foul on Kobe -- his fourth personal -- and Spain is in the bonus. Navarro splits a pair.

2:02, 4th: Wade responds with a trifeca from the elbow, putting the Americans back ahead 111-104. He's got 27 points on 9-for-12 shooting off the bench.

2:25, 4th: Jimenez puts down a three-pointer from the baseline to cut the U.S. lead to 108-104. Wow. 

3:01, 4th: Kobe Bryant nails a three-pointer while getting fouled by Rudy Fernandez, his fifth personal. Bryant makes the free throw, converting a gigantic four-point play. Compounding matters for Spain, Fernandez has fouled out of the game. This might be curtains for the Spanish.

3:30, 4th: Pau Gasol hits a wide-open jumper from 13 feet to pull Spain withing 104-99. They just won't go away.

4:02, 4th: Pau Gasol draws a foul on Dwight Howard -- his fourth -- and heads to the line for a pair. (Meanwhile, Chris Bosh enters the game for Howard.) Gasol makes the first and makes the second. It's 104-97.

4:21, 4th: Dwight Howard goes to the line for two shots. Misses the first. Makes the second. Always an adventure with the big guy.

5:04, 4th: Rudy Fernandez drives the right side of the lane and throws down a monster one-handed dunk while drawing a foul. He hits the free throw to convert the old-fashioned three-point play and close the U.S. lead to 103-95. 

5:56, 4th: ... but Kobe answers with a trifecta on the other end. Team USA leads 101-92. 

6:10, 4th: Rudy Fernandez cans a three-pointer to close the U.S. lead to 98-92 ... 

6:43, 4th: Huge dunk in traffic for Dwight Howard to open a 98-89 advantage. 

7:20, 4th: Deron Williams, left wide open on the left elbow, nails a three-point. A 5-0 spurt has given the Americans some breathing room at 96-89.

7:44, 4th: LeBron James picks up his fourth personal foul. 

7:59, 4th: Kobe Bryant hits an enormous shot for Team USA, opening the lead to 93-89.

8:11, 4th: And Rudy Fernandez strokes a three-pointer to close the U.S. lead to 91-89! Mike Krzyzewski calls a timeout to talk it over.

8:44, 4th: ... and Kobe misses a three. Gasol converts on the other end, pulling Spain within 91-87.

9:10, 4th: Pau Gasol tips in a missed shot to pull Spain within 91-84. They could really use a stop here. They're showing man-to-man ... 

9:35, 4th: Another missed opportunity for Team USA on the fast break and LeBron James picks up his third personal foul. 

End, 3rd: Navarro puts down a lay-up at the buzzer to close the margin to 91-82 with 10 minutes remaining in regulation. We've got ourselves a game! 

0:44.5, 3rd: Carmelo Anthony hits a massive three-pointer to give the U.S. a 91-80 advantage. 

1:07, 3rd: Gasol throws down a perfunctory alley-oop dunk off a beautiful feed from Ricky Rubio. Little margin for error on that pass -- the teenager really had to thread the needle.

1:59, 3rd: Just when the U.S. had opened the lead to double digits and appeared poised to blow it wide open, Navarro drives the right side of the lane to cut it back down to 86-78. 

3:00, 3rd: Bosh hits a pair of fouls. Spain can't convert on the other end. Kobe Bryant rises to shoot a three but passes at the last second to Wade, who draws a foul while attempting an acrobatic lay-in. Wade makes the first of two, and the U.S. leads 84-76.

3:38, 3rd: Marc Gasol splits a pair of fouls to pull Spain within 81-76. 

3:44, 3rd: Bodies on the floor. Heavy contact. Physical punishment. Team USA is getting pushed and they're answering the call.  

4:28, 3rd: Rubio drives into the paint but slips and gets whistled for traveling. Team USA has the ball with a 77-73 lead.

5:48, 3rd: Spain shows zone coming out of the timeout. Carmelo Anthony misses a three. Spain grabs the rebound and takes over possession with a chance to cut the lead to two. 

6:05, 3rd: Navarro drives into the lane and launches a running jumper from 14 feet. The basket falls through the goal and closes the U.S. advantage to 75-71. Mike Krzyzewski calls timeout to reorganize with his troops.

7:00, 3rd: Navarro pulls Spain back within four points following a Carmelo Anthony put-back on the opposite end.

7:29, 3rd: A Gasol bucket in the paint cuts the U.S. lead to 71-67. 

8:20, 3rd: Rudy Fernandez misses a three-pointer which would have cut the U.S. lead to 69-66. Dwight Howard responds on the other end with his first basket -- on his first field goal attempt -- of the entire game. 

9:00, 3rd: Two turnovers for Team USA and a Kobe Bryant airball in the first minute of the second half. 

9:36, 3rd: Reyes scores to open the second-half scoring. The bucket closes the deficit to six points. 

10:00, 3rd: Twenty minutes stands between Team USA and its first major international tournament victory in eight years. Can they close the deal?

Halftime: An entertaining, free-flowing first half finds the Redeem Team on pace for its highest-scoring game of the tournament -- while nursing their smallest halftime lead of the Olympics. Spain has managed handle the frenetic tempo in stride, going blow for blow with the deep and talented American side. They've given the Americans different looks on defense, alternating between man-to-man and a 2-3 zone. And they've gotten scoring from a bunch of different sources, with nine different players logging field goals during the first 20 minutes. Pau Gasol paces his side with 13 points, leading a group of seven different Spanish players with six or more points. Meanwhile, it's been the Dwyane Wade show for the Americans. The Marquette product picked up the slack with Kobe and LeBron stuck on the bench with foul trouble, pouring in a game-high 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting. Chris Paul added 10 points, mostly in transition and also off the bench. Team USA has knocked down 22-of-34 shots from the floor -- an outrageous 64.7 percent clip. But Spain isn't very far behind, making 19-of-31 field goal attempts -- or 61.3 percent.

0:00.0, 2nd: Navarro turns it over on Spain's final possession of the first half. Wade rushes downcourt and lofts a three-pointer from the elbow which draws iron, chirping in referee Pablo Estevez's ear about the alleged contact while walking off the court. 

0:27.7, 2nd: Chris Paul sinks a pair of fouls to push it out to 69-61. 

0:47.7, 2nd: Navarro draws a foul on the other end and splits a pair to pull Spain within 67-61. 

0:52.8, 2nd: Wade misses his first shot of the game, a three-pointer from the elbow which falls short. 

1:12, 2nd: Reyes deposits a lay-up to pull the Spanish within single digits again. Will they let the Americans push their lead out again or can they dig deeper this time? 

2:15, 2nd: Every time Spain pulls within striking distance, Dwyane Wade answers with a dagger. Wade just canned another three-pointer, improving to 7-for-7 from the field today. He's got 21 points off the bench with two minutes in change remaining in the first half. Keep in mind the U.S. Olympic single-game record is 31 points by Stephon Marbury in the quarterfinals of the 2004 Games. The opponent? Spain.

4:02, 2nd: LeBron James cans a three-pointer to open the U.S. lead to 58-44, the largest lead of the game. Team USA is 7-of-10 from three-point range today. 

4:58, 2nd: Wade hits another three-pointer. He's unconscious today, with 18 points off the bench in less than nine minutes. 

5:13, 2nd: Dwyane Wade explodes into a passing lane and intercepts a lazy pass near midcourt, racing to the rim for an uncontested dunk to open the U.S lead to 10 points. 

5:43, 2nd: Jimenez draws a foul on Dwight Howard to put Spain in the bonus for the rest of the second quarter. He hits both free throws to close the margin to 48-42. 

6:13, 2nd: Team USA snaps Spain's 5-0 mini-run when Chris Paul throws a beautiful 35-foot alley-oop pass to Kobe Bryant, who rises awkwardly and somehow redirects the ball into the goal. The basket re-extends the U.S. lead to 48-40. 

6:56, 2nd: Rubio sinks a pair of fouls to close it to 46-38. 

7:18, 2nd: Rudy Fernandez hits a contested three-pointer from the elbow to cut the deficit to 10 points. Important shot there to keep a little pressure on the U.S.

9:03, 2nd: Dwight Howard commits an unsportsmanlike foul on Pau Gasol. That's two foul shots and possession, but Gasol misses both and Spain gives it away on the possession. The turnover ends up getting deflected upcourt to Kobe Bryant in stride, who dunks it home to open a 43-31 lead.

9:33, 2nd: Kobe Bryant, back into the game, drains a three-pointer to put the U.S. team ahead 41-31. The Americans have made 4-of-5 shots from beyond the arc so far.

End, 1st: Wade gets a quick steal and almost throws down a dunk at the first-quarter buzzer but the ball slips out of his hands and out of bounds. That's it for this frenetic first quarter!

0:09.0, 1st: Wade calmly sinks a three-pointer to open the Team USA lead to 38-31. Spain's got to be encouraged by their production in the first quarter but this tempo plays right into the Redeem Team's hands. 

1:10, 1st: ... Dwayne Wade draws a ticky-tack foul on Berni Rodriguez just seconds later and sinks a pair of free throws to open it back up to six points. Wade's contributed 10 points off the bench already.

1:15, 1st: Marc Gasol gets a quick bucket for Spain to cut the lead to four points ... 

1:22, 1st: Bosh puts the United States up six points with a tip-in. The U.S. is starting to look better after a flat-footed start.

3:06, 1st: Spain shows a zone defense for the first time today and Raul Lopez is whistled for a blocking foul with just four seconds left on the shot-clock. That's his third personal and he'll head to the bench. Not a good sign for a Spain team already thin at point guard thanks to Jose Calderon's absence.

3:44, 1st: Bosh hits a pair of free throws for Team USA to knot the score at 22 apiece. 

4:10, 1st: Chris Paul dribbles the length of the court, hangs in the air while drawing a foul and converts the lay-up. Another old-fashioned three-point play. This one closes Spain's lead to 22-20. 

4:49, 1st: Berni Rodriguez grabs an offensive rebound far beneath his goal and deposits a nifty lay-in to open the Spain lead to 21-17.

5:45, 1st: Wade makes an immediate impact, driving the lane and converting a lay-up while drawing the foul on Felipe Reyes. Wade hits from the line to pull the U.S. within 15-14.

6:20, 1st: Kobe picks up his second foul, hacking Juan Carlos Navarro beyond the arc. Navarro converts the fouls to give Spain a 13-9 lead, matching Team USA's largest deficit of the tourney. LeBron and Kobe head to the bench while Deron Williams and Dwyane Wade enter the game.

7:47, 1st: LeBron just picked up his second personal foul but convinces Mike Krzysewski to keep him in the game.

8:22, 1st: Spain captializes on a sloppy U.S. fast break, converting a fast break of their own into points with a Pau Gasol dunk. Spain takes its first lead at 5-4. 

8:40, 1st: The U.S. is really pressuring early, but they've picked up a pair of team fouls already -- one for LeBron and one for Kobe.

9:16, 1st: Pau Gasol answers with three the hard way, drawing the foul on LeBron, making the shot and converting the free throw. 

9:34, 1st: LeBron James opens the scoring with a three-pointer. 

10:00, 1st: No surprises in Team USA's starting five as Mike Krzyzewski sticks with the same opening combination he's dialed up in the previous seven victories: It's Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard wearing the blues for Team USA. For Spain, it's Ricky Rubio, Juan Carlos Navarro, Carlos Jimenez, Felipe Reyes and Pau Gasol wearing white.

* * * 

Put the Spanish players on a court with any other team on the planet and they're favorites. But against the United States in today's gold medal match, they're three-touchdown underdogs. Overmatched and undermanned, Spain is the ultimate Cinderella. Problem is -- from where I'm sitting anyway -- midnight's already struck.

Congrats to Argentina for winning the bronze medal with a convincing 87-75 victory over Lithuania [BOX SCORE]. 

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