ISTANBUL — Kevin Durant carried the United States into the gold-medal game at the world championship, scoring a U.S.-record 38 points today in an 89-74 victory over Lithuania.

With a special 9/11 message on his sneakers, Durant soared over defenders or stepped away from them for 3-pointers, scoring 17 in the first quarter to stake the Americans to an early lead that was never seriously challenged.

He went on to surpass Carmelo Anthony’s single-game record of 35 points and raise his average in the tournament to 22.1, which would be the best ever by a U.S. player.

More importantly, he guaranteed the Americans a chance at their first world title since 1994. They will play Turkey or Serbia on Sunday.