Team USA stretched its lead in every quarter and improved to 4-0 in preliminary play, clinching the Group B title. The U.S. is likely to play Germany or Australia in the Round of 16 after facing Tunisia on Thursday.
The U.S. shot 57.8 percent from the field with every player scoring. The team played much better in halfcourt sets than it did on Monday and moved the ball fluidly.
Most encouraging of all, the U.S. turned in a much better defensive effort. Although Iran isn't an offensive powerhouse by any means, it shot just 30 percent for the game and committed 24 turnovers. Iran's most impressive performance came from Memphis Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi, who scored 19 points and pulled down six rebounds.
Although the outcome of Wednesday's game was never in question, there were a few other queries answered in the Iran game. The U.S. showed it can score in other ways besides the fastbreak and can turn up the defensive intensity when called upon. Although the U.S. might not have a big team, they are athletic and long and can force tons of turnovers when focused.
Still, there were a few frustrating moments from Wednesday's game. U.S. players committed a bevy of mistakes, turning the ball over 16 times. Many of those came on fastbreaks when the U.S. actually had numbers. They'll need to take better care of the rock in elimination games if they want to advance.
Granger follows with another three, stretching the lead to 37.
Love knocks down an outside jumper, showing off a little bit of everything today.
Haddadi scores again -- I think this guy is slightly better than a third-string center. He's doing more than hold his own today. Way more skilled than Croatia's Ante Tomic or Slovenia's Primoz Brezec who we saw earlier in the tournament.
Love scores on the finger roll in transition.
Granger puts his head down, draws the foul and scores.
Kazemi and Chandler exchange dunks, with the latter coming in the face of Haddadi. Little payback for that Hakeem move.
Granger checking in for Westbrook, who has been wild at times.
Curry gets the ball stripped and is whistled for an intentional foul on the breakaway. Tough call.
Chandler knocks a ball off the rim on the other end, taking advantage of FIBA rules.
Team USA out scores Iran 20-11 in the third, sparked by Rose's (11 points on 5-of-6 shooting) strong play. The team also continues to pressure Iran on every possession, leading to endless turnovers by the Iranians.
Instead, a wide-open Curry pump fakes and hits a pull-up jumper. Much better.
Rose's big quarter continues, knocking down a baseline jumper.
Billups steps into a deep three but misses, but Rose keeps the possession alive and tips it back to the U.S. Gay catches the defense out of position and drills a trey.
The U.S. scores after Odom takes Haddadi to the basket.
Durant misses on the other end and Iran slows it down.
Billups with a steal and an easy bucket to start the third quarter.
Despite the big advantage, things have been sloppy at times for the U.S. in the first two periods. The team committed nine turnovers (although forced 21) and has struggled from the field, with the exception of Durant and Love.
K.D. leads all scorers with 11 and Love has nine. Every U.S. player has scored except for Odom and Curry.
Iran is shooting just 33 percent, but has to be happy playing a fairly competitive half against the tournament favorite. Haddadi is just 2-of-8 from the floor (seven points), but Arsalan Kazemi, a sophomore at Rice, has nine.
So long for that lineup. Odom checks in to give Love a breather.
Granger knocks down a shot from almost the same spot on the U.S.'s next turn to give his team a 15-point lead.
I like the U.S.'s lineup right now of Billups-Rose-Granger-Durant-Love. Let's see how long they stick with it.
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla compliments Haddadi on the telecast by saying the big man could be a third-string center on any NBA team. Or at least I think it was a compliment
Kazemi knocks down two free throws and Iran follows up the next possession with two more freebies from Haddadi.
Kevin Love checks in.
The U.S. forces a quick turnover and Westbrook scores on a breakaway layup. This could be the beginning of the end for Iran.
Team USA is up early, but visibly frustrated.
The team is playing much tighter on defense than it did Monday against Brazil, but isn't quite capitalizing on offense. Durant with six early points.
After a few turns up-and-down the court, Chandler scores on a put-back dunk off a Westbrook miss.
Rose hits 1-of-2 and the U.S. keeps the ball.
Haddadi shows some range knocking down the face-up jumper, but Gordon responds almost instantly with a lay-up in traffic the other way.
Iran knocks down two free throws to make it a three-point game.
U.S. starting to trap on defense and really put some pressure on the ball. Players might need a breather soon if they keep this pace up.
Odom and Haddadi fighting for position on every play under the hoop. Wouldn't be surprised to see both of them in foul trouble in a matter of minutes.
Billups with a bad shot from beyond the arc and Iran makes the U.S. pay. Kamrani with a three to give Iran the lead.
But on the next possession, K.D. scores on a bucket and is fouled by Haddadi, leading to a three-point play.
Although the outcome of today's game might not be in suspense, there are a few things Team USA needs to accomplish before concluding pool play. For starters, they still need some cohesion on defense. Coach K will likely use the next two games to work out the kinks. The U.S. could also use some work in its halfcourt sets. In the closing minutes against Brazil on Monday, the U.S. players looked like they didn't know what to do or who to go to. Durant or Billups will likely be the players the U.S. depends on to shoot in crunch time.
With a tough test against Brazil in its rearview mirror, Team USA pushes forward this afternoon (tip-off at noon) when it takes on Iran in the fourth game of pool play at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
The U.S. (3-0), who needs one more win to clinch a first-place finish in Group B, squeaked out a win Monday when Leandro Barbosa's last-second attempt bounced off the rim to give the Americans a 70-68 victory over Brazil. Kevin Durant, once again, played the role of hero, finishing with game-highs of 27 points and 10 rebounds.
Although Iran (1-2) will not put up the same type of fight, Monday's game was a wake-up call for the U.S., who collapsed on defense and settled for too many bad shots during their first real challenge in Turkey.
The U.S. is likely to start Lamar Odom, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Derrick Rose and Chauncey Billups, but look for Tyson Chandler or Kevin Love to come off the bench to bang with Iranian center Hamed Haddadi, who plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.