The United States national team decisively bounced back after the opening loss in Toky, defeating Iran 120-66 today.
It was a one-way game from the start until the end, with the Americans firmly controlling everything that goes on the court, and eventually posting a victory that would improve the morale following a failure against France.
“After that loss [to France], we came together,” Damian Lillard said. “There was a lot of communication between then and now. It was like, ‘Alright, it’s time to start looking like Team USA.’ ”
And that was exactly what happened, with the Americans opening the match very strong, hitting seven threes in the first period alone, scoring 28 points while on the other side allowing just 12. We saw the same scenario in the second quarter, as Team USA outscored the rivals 32-18.
As time went by, Gregg Popovich didn’t allow any slowdowns, and the Americans kept on at the same pace. San Antonio’s head coach used all 12 players in the rotation, and each one of them managed to score. The ball movement was extremely fast and accurate, which resulted in 34 assists, and lots of easy points.
Gregg Popovich spoke about that following the event, saying that his team needed to adjust to the new circumstances and that the players had to change their mindset.
“Each of these guys scores 20 or 25 or 30 for their NBA teams,” Popovich said. “Their teams depend on that every night. We can’t play like that [in the Olympics], and so we don’t. … Everybody is, in a sense, a role player now. We don’t need heroes.”
The Americans were also sharp from the three-point line, making 19 of 39 shots, far above the average in the recent few games.
Damian Lillard had 21 points, scoring seven threes in 13 attempts, having one light shooting practice. Devin Booker scored 16 points, and Jayson Tatum added 14 with four boards. Zach LaVine was very productive, playing for 22 minutes and scoring 13 points with 8 assists and four boards.
Kevin Durant had one easy match with 10 buckets, five boards, and five assists, but with three blocks and two steals, contributing strongly on the defensive part of the floor. Khris Middleton was also in the double-digit area with 10 points too.
Anyone taking USA basketball -39.5 against Iran? pic.twitter.com/8mQptflXnF
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) July 27, 2021
On the other side, the veteran center, Hamed Haddadi, had 14 points with seven rebounds. The former Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns center was the best player in the Iranian team, along with Mohammad Jamshidi, who also had 14 points.
The Americans have no time to celebrate nor rest, as they meet with the Czech Republic in three days. It will be the battle for the knockout stage, as the winner of the same secures the quarterfinals.
The Czechs proved their quality in the Olympic qualifiers once they eliminated Canada and Greece in Victoria. Chicago Bulls’ Thomas Satoransky left the Canadians in shock while leading his team to a 103-101 OT victory. Later on, the Czechs defeated Greece in the finals of the tournament.
Besides Satoransky, they have the former Washington Wizards center, Jan Vesely, and Blake Schilb, Loyola alumni.
In other matches of the day, Germany defeated Nigeria, 92-82, while Italy lost to Australia in one very intense game, 86-83.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.