Damian Lillard Leads Team USA To First Win At Olympics
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Damian Lillard led Team USA to their first victory in group play at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Lillard scored 21 points to lead the Americans to a dominant 120-66 victory over Iran who fell to 0-2 in Group A.
The majority of Lillard’s work was done in the first half when he scored 18 points on six made threes, doubling his output in the Team USA’s game one loss to France on Saturday.
Lillard knocked down one more second-half three, but his scoring wasn’t needed as the American roster put the clamps on Iran defensively. The Iranian National Team scored just 26 points over the final 20 minutes of the game while shooting 25-67 from the floor for 37 percent.
“I think we came out with a lot more urgency,” Lillard said after the win. “Our energy was higher, we played at a faster pace. We were more aggressive when we played like ourselves.”
Team USA looked timid in their loss to Rudy Gobert and the French National Team, blowing a late lead and going cold from the floor, connecting on just 10-32 threes.
Against Iran, Lillard’s hot shooting sparked Team USA which knocked down 19-39 three-point attempts en route to the easy victory.
“The first game I felt like I wasn’t myself,” the former Weber State star said. “I wasn’t aggressive, passing up shots, trying too hard to do the right thing. That’s not what we’re for — we’re here to dominate and be winners.”
Team USA now moves into a second-place tie with the Czech Republic in Group A with an even 1-1 record. The Americans will face the Czech Republic team on Saturday morning with a chance to advance to the quarterfinals with a win.
Iran lost to the Czech Republic 84-78 to open group play and is now an extreme longshot to advance to the next round.