The United States men’s national basketball team shook off a loss to France in their opening game—their first Olympic defeat since 2004—with a resounding 120-66 victory over Iran on Tuesday evening in Tokyo. Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard stole the show with a game-high 21 points, one of six Americans in double-figure scoring. Hamed Haddadi, the only player on Iran’s roster with NBA experience, tied for the team lead with 14 points.
Night and Day
Team USA came out of the gates looking like a completely different team than the one that took the court against France just two days ago. They immediately looked to push the pace, and utilized crisp, decisive ball movement to generate quality looks from beyond the arc, hitting at a 13-21 clip in the first half and shooting just shy of 50% from three for the game. After the hot start, the Americans kept the pedal to the metal, grabbing a 30-point halftime lead before nearly doubling up the Iranians by the time the final buzzer sounded. The team finished with 34 assists to just six turnovers.
Defensively, Team USA brought just as much pressure. They forced 23 turnovers, including 10 steals, and also registered 11 blocks for the game. While Iran looked to establish their post game early with Haddadi—who had success—they settled for contested threes as the game got away from them. All told, they shot just 37% from the field, including 35% from distance.
Lillard made his mark on the game early, connecting on three of his first four three-point attempts, and ultimately scoring 18 of his 21 points in the first half after starting his second shift 3-3 from downtown. He played the entire first quarter, in which the Americans outscored Iran 28-12.
Lillard finished the game 7-13 from distance, and 7-15 overall. He was able to both utilize screens to find his own shot and also had success as a spot-up shooter. Dame added five assists and two rebounds, committing just a single turnover. Overall, he looked far less passive offensively then he did in the opener, and was clearly looking to be more aggressive.
Kevin Durant is now just five points shy of eclipsing Carmelo Anthony’s Team USA all-time scoring record. Durant finished with 10 points on 4-8 shooting, resting down the stretch with the game well out of reach. Melo appeared in four Olympics, from 2004-16, while Durant is currently in his third go-around at the games.
Team USA finishes group play with a match against the Czech Republic on Saturday morning, 5 a.m. PT, needing a win to move on to the knockout stage.