Back in the driver's seat.
After falling to France in the Olympic opener Sunday, Team USA bounced back in blowout fashion, defeating Iran (0-2), 120-66. With the statement victory, Team USA stands at 1-1 in Group A. A win over the Czech Republic this weekend would ensure a place in the quarter-finals. The Czech lost to France by 20 on Wednesday.
“I think we came out with a lot more urgency,” Lillard said. “Our energy was higher, we played at a faster pace. We were more aggressive, and we played like ourselves. We didn’t come out here and think that it was just gonna happen, we made it happen, and that’s the way that we got to play if we want to be successful in these Olympics.”
The U.S. came out of the gates firing away, opening the contest on an extended 19-9 scoring run, and, as the saying goes, didn’t look back. Team USA’s dominance was forged off pace and defense, picking apart Iran on both ends of the floor and lighting it up from three. At the half, Team USA hit the break nursing a whopping 60-30 lead, but that didn’t stop the men’s national team from letting off the gas in the extended garbage time.
The 30-point advantage quickly ballooned to 57— largest lead — led by Damian Lillard with 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting from behind the arc in 23 minutes. By the time the final buzzer sounded, it was a 54-point win and Iran was taking pictures with the U.S. stars. Devin Booker followed Lillard with a strong showing of 16 points, five rebounds and one assist in 19 minutes of play. Six players for Team USA finished in double-figures and forced 23 turnovers and had a 38-5 advantage in fast-break points.
Kevin Durant — who entered the contest trailing Carmelo Anthony by 16 points on the U.S men’s all-time leading scoring list — had a quiet yet very productive outing in the blowout win with no history attached. Durant served as the main facilitator, dishing a team-high five assists to go with 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from three. The 32-year-old also snagged five rebounds and was very engaged defensively, swatting three blocks and swiping two steals in 20 minutes of action.
“We were a bit too unselfish and that bit us before, but tonight I think guys came out there and were super aggressive to look for their shot but also keep everybody involved, and we were able to make some shots,” said Durant, who sat the entire fourth quarter. “Damian came out, got it scorching for us, so we’re gonna need that going forward.”
Team USA faces the 12th-ranked Czech Republic (1-0) on Saturday, July 31 at 8:00 AM ET while Iran plays France (1-0) Wednesday. A win for the U.S. men’s national team will send the squad to the quarterfinals and keep their chase for elusive gold alive. If the team falls Saturday morning, their chances of advancing will highly depend on point-differential — and winning by 54 points early Wednesday morning helps.
- Game Report: Team USA 120, Iran 66 (with Video) - FIBA.com
- Team USA men’s basketball rebounds after loss to France, routs Iran - Ryan Quigley - NBC Olympics