U.S. men beat Iran 120-66
By: Mike Stiles -
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Damian Lillard (photo courtesy of NBA)
(TOKYO) - Everyone likes a blowout, but this one for the United States men's basketball team had extra value, cleansing the palate as it begins a stretch of must-win games at the Tokyo Olympics. The Americans crushed Iran 120-66 for their first win of the Olympics. A victory on Saturday against the Czech Republic will give them a berth into the medal round next week, though this huge margin of victory gives the U.S. a chance to still advance even if they suffer another loss to the Czechs. It was hard to gauge just what sort of improvement the Americans made because the Iranians were outclassed and just couldn't keep up with the waves of talent. But there were some hints of the adjustments coach Gregg Popovich made following a loss to France on Sunday that could stick going forward. First, Popovich changed his starting lineup and inserted Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker, who had come off the bench against France after traveling in following the NBA Finals. This led to a better balance and a faster lineup, as the Americans racked up 19 fast-break points in the first half alone. Damian Lillard dropped in seven 3-pointers as he scored 21 points. In all, six different players made multiple 3-pointers as the U.S. racked up 19 of them on 39 tries in the type of game the Americans had planned when putting the roster together. Booker, taking advantage of the start, scored 16 points to go with five rebounds. Jayson Tatum finished with 14 points and Zach LaVine had 13 to aid the offensive output.