Team USA blew out Iran 120-66 to earn its first victory of the Tokyo Games. The United States lost to France in its previous game and needed a win to keep hopes alive of advancing to the medal rounds.
Team USA was led by Damian Lillard, who scored 21 points on 7-13 shooting from three point range. He also had five assists. Devin Booker added 16 points while Jayson Tatum contributed 14 off the bench. The United States held Iran to just 37.3% shooting overall and forced 23 Iranian turnovers. The Americans assisted on 34 of its 42 made field goals.
Kevin Durant pledged Tuesday that Team USA would get back on track with an egalitarian approach on offense instead of leaning more heavily on its biggest stars. That philosophy played out against Iran, as six Americans finished in double figures and Team USA registered 34 assists on 42 baskets while shooting an impressive 19-39 from beyond the arc.
“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 took control from the game’s opening moments, building a 33-point first-half lead and cruising to the 54-point win, their largest margin of victory in the Olympics since a 57-point drubbing of China at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Jerami Grant scored four points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out two assists off the bench. It was the first time Grant has played in the Olympics during his basketball career as he did not play against France. Grant was 1-2 from the floor, including 1-1 from beyond the arc, and 1-2 from the free throw line.
France and the Czech Republic play later in the day. Regardless of the outcome, the United States will be tied for second place in the Group A standings and control its own destiny. A win over the Czech Republic on Saturday would clinch second place, at a minimum, and therefore a spot in the quarterfinals. From there, it is a single elimination tournament.