AP Photo/John Locher
After having its 25-game winning streak in Olympic competition snapped Sunday versus France, the United States men’s basketball team rebounded in its second game against Iran.
Team USA dominated the Iranian squad 120-66, led by 21 points from Damian Lillard. Head coach Gregg Popovich went deep into his bench for production, and the reserves nearly outscored Iran on their own with a combined total of 59 points.
The 120 points the U.S. scored were its most in a game this Olympic season, including four exhibition contests before traveling to Tokyo.
2021 Olympic Men’s Basketball Scores – July 28
Team USA def. Iran 120-66
Australia def. Italy 86-83
France vs. Czech Republic (8 a.m. ET)
The United States’ two biggest keys to Tuesday’s win over Iran were three-point shooting and converting turnovers into points.
Coming off a 10-of-32 shooting performance from behind the arc against France, Team USA made 48.7 percent of its three-pointers versus Iran (19-of-39).
Lillard was the driving force behind that success, as all seven of his makes came from three. His five assists were also tied with Kevin Durant for most among United States starters.
“Being in the hotel, at meals and on the practice court and just talking after that loss, we came together,” Lillard told reporters afterward. “It’s time to start looking like Team USA.”
The U.S. defense converted 23 turnovers into 37 points and held Iran to 37.3 percent shooting. By comparison, France only had 14 turnovers and shot 46.8 percent from the field.
Durant didn’t have a dominant offensive performance, but he was involved in most of the action on both sides of the ball. The two-time Finals MVP finished with 10 points, five rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals.
Kevin Durant watch. ?<br><br>With this dunk, he’s five points away from Carmelo Anthony. <a href=”https://twitter.com/TeamUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@TeamUSA</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/peacockTV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@PeacockTV</a><a href=”https://t.co/FmEtvutDRA”>https://t.co/FmEtvutDRA</a><br>NBC Sports <a href=”https://t.co/vSmJEDRXgi”>pic.twitter.com/vSmJEDRXgi</a>
‘<a href=”https://twitter.com/carmeloanthony?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@carmeloanthony</a>: 336 points as an Olympian<a href=”https://twitter.com/KDTrey5?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@KDTrey5</a>: 331<br><br>Kevin Durant’s next game is Saturday vs. Czech Republic, where he’ll try to pass Anthony’s record for most points scored by a <a href=”https://twitter.com/TeamUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@TeamUSA</a> men’s basketball player in Olympic history. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TokyoOlympics</a> x <a href=”https://twitter.com/usabasketball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@usabasketball</a> <a href=”https://t.co/Yo0UP6nGBd”>pic.twitter.com/Yo0UP6nGBd</a>
After being in the starting lineup against France, Zach LaVine came off the bench in this one, finishing with 13 points and a game-high eight assists. Popovich also moved Draymond Green to the bench, with Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday joining the starting lineup.
The U.S. will wrap up group play Saturday against the Czech Republic.
In the second game of the day, Australia moved one step closer to clinching a spot in the quarterfinals thanks to its 86-83 win over Italy.
Neither side ever led by more than six points through the first three quarters.
After Italy took a 50-44 lead on a Nico Mannion layup with 8:50 remaining in the third, the Australians went on a 29-17 run that put them up by eight with under five minutes to go in the fourth.
Italy did get to within 84-81, but Patty Mills made two free throws with eight seconds remaining to seal Australia’s second straight win in Group B.
Mills, Aron Baynes, Joe Ingles, Jock Landale and Nick Kay all scored in double figures in the win. Australia’s size proved to be a problem for Italy, as the Boomers had a 44-30 advantage in rebounds, including a 16-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
Mannion had a fantastic game off the bench for the Italians, as the 20-year-old finished with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting to go with seven assists. Simone Fontecchio led all players with 22 points.
Australia will clinch a spot in the knockout stage with either a win over Germany or a loss by Italy against Nigeria. Both games will be played Saturday.