SAITAMA, Japan — The United States got back on track in their quest for a fourth consecutive men's basketball gold medal on Wednesday with a 54 point blowout win against Iran buoyed by a barrage of three pointers, putting their shock loss to France behind them.
Guard Damian Lillard was sizzling hot to begin the game as he hit six threes in the first half, helping the United States shoot 63% from beyond the arc as they built a commanding 60-30 lead and came away with a 120-66 victory.
Lillard, who plays for the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, finished with a game high 21 points, with the United States ending up with 19 threes for the game.
The dominant win will allay concerns about their medal credentials in Tokyo after they suffered a shock defeat by France on Sunday, losing at the Olympics for the first time since 2004 and for just the sixth time in the history of the tournament.
But they righted the ship on Wednesday.
Stout defense and sweet shooting catapulted them to victory, as they forced turnovers and held Iran's best player, guard Behnam Yakhchalidehkordi, to only six points, a far cry from his sensational performance from his team's first game when he had a game high 23 points.
Lillard told reporters after the game that the team's defensive urgency and competitiveness allowed them to get easy baskets on the offensive end.
"We used our length and our athleticism and our talent," he added. "If we play the way we played tonight, we've got a great chance to accomplish the goal we set out before coming here."
U.S. coach Gregg Popovich also commended his team's defense.
"We played good defense for a long period of time, shared the ball throughout the game very, very, well, against a very hard-working Iranian team," he said.
Kevin Durant, who was saddled with foul trouble in the game against France, bounced back with a terrific all-around performance finishing with 10 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals, three blocks and zero turnovers.
"He is Kevin Durant, you expect him to be able to bounce back and that's what he did," said Lillard.
Durant's great execution was epitomized in one possession midway through the third quarter when he blocked a shot, retrieved possession and threw a pass to a running Bam Adebayo for a dunk.
Iran were again their own worst enemy, sloppy with the ball and committing 23 turnovers that resulted in 37 U.S. points.
The United States next play against the Czech Republic on Saturday, while Iran face France on the same day.
The games are currently in the group stage made up of three groups of four teams each. First and second place teams from each group automatically go through to the knock-out phase, while the two best third-placed teams will also advance.
US, Canada net men's volleyball wins
Canada claimed their first men's volleyball win at Tokyo 2020 on Wednesday, overcoming Pool A's in-form team Iran in straight sets, while the United States beat Pool B's bottom side Tunisia.
Having lost to Italy and Japan, Canada were quick off the blocks, capitalizing on a slew of errors from Iran to comfortably take the opening set.
The second and third sets were closer but, courtesy of John Perrin's 16 points and Nicholas Hoag's 15, Canada steadily built their lead with a combination of spikes and blocks to win 25-16 25-20 25-22.
Meanwhile, the U.S. beat Tunisia 25-14 23-25 25-14 25-23 with Torey Defalco on 24 points.
The Americans were formidable in defense with 41 successful digs while their back row attacks also proved too good for Tunisia.
Japan, DR open baseball tournament
High-fives abounded for hosts Japan after they staged a thrilling final-inning comeback to defeat the Dominican Republic 4-3 on Wednesday to begin the baseball competition at Tokyo 2020.
Four singles and a bunt in the ninth inning off of Dominican closer Jairo Asencio brought Japan two runs to tie the game. Hayato Sakamoto then struck a game-winning drive.
The rocky relief pitching followed six scoreless innings from two of the Japanese baseball league's best throwers, the Dominican Republic's Cristopher Mercedes and Japan's Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Baseball is popular in Japan, and fans have high hopes for a good performance by their team in a sport restored at the wishes of Tokyo Games organizers after previously featuring in the Olympics from 1992 through 2008. Cuba have won three gold medals and the United States and South Korea one apiece.
Players from NPB, Korea's professional league and MLB training system Minor League Baseball dominate the Games because the world's premier organization, MLB, does not allow its top players to participate. That has starved the Olympics of globally recognized superstars including Japan's Shohei Ohtani and Dominican native Fernando Tatis Jr.
China dominating synchro diving
China earned their third diving gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics when Wang Zongyuan and Xie Siyi triumphed in the men's 3-meter synchronized springboard on Wednesday, reclaiming the title they lost to Britain in Rio.
The Chinese duo got off to a strong start and finished on 467.82 points, ahead of Andrew Capobianco and Michael Hixon of the United States in second.
The Tokyo silver marked the third successive Olympic medal in the event for the United States.
Germany's Patrick Hausding and Lars Rudiger took bronze with 404.73, while 2016 champions Britain were seventh.
China won 3 golds and 1 silver in the men's and women's synchronized events in Tokyo, while the United States claimed 2 silver medals, with 2 bronzes for Germany.
The events will resume on Friday with the women's 3 meter springboard preliminary.