The United States men's basketball team was hoping to end their group stage schedule on a positive note against the Czech Republic. They did end up getting the win they needed, but things certainly weren't looking good early on.
Gregg Popovich was forced to take a timeout after Team USA fell behind 9-2 less than two minutes into the contest. The Czech team has been very good to start games at these Olympics, and that trend continued Saturday. Luckily, the U.S. found their game and bounced back to close the gap before the Czechs jumped too far ahead.
Unsurprisingly, a key contributor to Team USA's early turnaround was Kevin Durant, who in the second quarter hit a three-pointer to surpass Carmelo Anthony and become the all-time leading U.S. scorer for men's basketball at the Olympics. Durant finished the game with 23 points to further cement his place in U.S. history.
Thanks to Durant and some stellar shooting from Zach LaVine, the U.S. fully recovered from their rocky start to take a 47-43 lead into halftime.
If there was any concern that Team USA would start the second half as poorly as they started the first, that worry was put to bed immediately when they put up 35 points in the third quarter. By the time the Czechs managed to stop the bleeding, it was too little too late. The U.S. powered forward to earn the 119-84 victory — their second win of the Tokyo Olympic competition.
Team USA will now prepare for their quarterfinal contest on Monday night or Tuesday morning against a team to be determined.
France Stays Undefeated, Keeps Iran Winless
Iran hoped to earn its first win of the Tokyo Olympics against France Friday night, but the French were having none of it.
Held to just 27 points in the first half, Iran struggled to generate consistent offense against France's stingy defense led by NBA superstar Rudy Gobert. And when Iran did manage to earn offensive opportunities, they often had difficulties making them count — they only made 34 percent of their shots from the field.
France exits the preliminary stage as Group C's only undefeated squad. Despite their 3-0 record, though, the U.S. (2-1) remains one of the most dangerous groups in the competition and is likely to give France a run for its money.
Italy Holds Off Nigeria
After falling behind to Italy 29-17 in the first quarter, Nigeria stormed back to make things interesting in the second half.
Nigeria managed to tie the Italians at 46 apiece in the third quarter, thanks largely to the strong play of Jahlil Okafor and Chimezie Metu. The tilt then became a back-and-forth affair as Italy and Nigeria swapped multiple leads in the game's fourth quarter.
In the end, though, the Italians earned the 80-71 win after pulling away in the waning minutes of the contest.
Australia Bests Germany
The game between Australia and Germany was much closer than the score indicates. Both teams were neck and neck for a large portion of the contest, but Australia ended up picking up steam later on in the tilt to earn the 89-76 win.