Questions swirled surrounding the United States Senior Men's National Team after it opened Group Play with a crushing loss to France, but Team USA took the first step to quelling those concerns with a 120-66 victory over Iran.
USA vs. IRAN: Running diary | Takeaways | Box score
The dominant win, which was sparked by a hot-shooting Damian Lillard, keeps Team USA in position to advance to the Knockout Stage, with one game of Group Play against the Czech Republic remaining.
After the game, Lillard and Kevin Durant both shared that the team is figuring a few things out as far as unselfishness goes.
"We were a bit too unselfish and that bit us before," Durant said following the game. "But tonight I think guys came out there and were super aggressive to look for their shot but also keep everybody involved, and we were able to make some shots. Damian (Lillard) came out, got it scorching for us, so we're gonna need that going forward."
Lillard, who finished with a game-high 21 points (on 7-for-13 shooting from deep), expressed a similar sentiment, saying "I think everybody was worried about not wanting to look selfish or not look like they're not throwing themselves into the team.
"I think it showed with how guys were kind of hesitant, kind of passive and I think we are starting to figure out, you know, that being ourselves and doing what we do is what's gonna work for us. You know, that's playing fast, using our athleticism, using our speed, finding shooters, you know we got a lot of guys that can score and you know, not being shy about it."
Lillard cited communication between the team during the two days between games as a key to the dominant nature of the bounce-back win, acknowledging Draymond Green as one of the main voices that also encouraged him to be more aggressive in seeking his own shot.
This communication looks to be the uniting force for a roster that is still learning one another, a fact that's especially true for Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, each of whom joined the team just hours before Olympic play began.
"I think our communication as a group, you know, just being in a hotel together, being in the dining areas together, at practice shooting around, just talking, I feel like after that loss we came together, you know," Lillard continued. "It was a lot of communication between then and now where it was like 'alright it's time start looking like Team USA.'"
With a 54-point win, the group looked much more like Team USA, but it still has a ways to go to uphold the standard of excellence established by a program that has won three consecutive gold medals, and six of the last seven Olympic golds.
Team USA will look to continue to build upon this momentum when it closes Group Play against the Czech Republic on Saturday, July 31 at 8:00 a.m. ET.
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