The Yugoslavs led for much of the first half, trailed by five points at half-time and were just one point down with 14:03 to go before the Americans finally broke free for a 95-69 victory.
Yugoslavia, taking the silver medal, won the real competition below the unbeatable NBA All-Stars. Lithuania took their second successive bronze medal, beating Australia, 80-74.
"We did what we needed to do," said the United States' Karl Malone. "We won the gold medal and that is what matters."
Led by San Antonio Spurs centre David Robinson, the Americans embarked on one of their familiar second-half runs to pull away from the Yugoslavs. Robinson scored 28 points, 10 of them in the key 28-5 burst, and Reggie Miller had 20 points in a battle of the last two undefeated teams in the Olympic tournament.
"Any one of these guys could have stepped up, that is why they call this a Dream Team," said Robinson. "I am glad it was my opportunity tonight. It was a lot of fun. We were a little bit tight in the first half and I could tell we needed a spark and I just tried to come off the bench and give us that."
The Yugoslav coach, Zelimir Obradovic, said: "We came out to show everybody that Yugoslavia can play great basketball and the entire world was able to see it."
Cuban basketball player Olga Vigil was ejected for felling Russia's Irina Sumnikova with a punch to the forehead during their women's classification- round game. The punch followed elbowing and shoving by several players in a tight game.Reuse content