The U.S. lost its first two exhibition games of the summer in Las Vegas, dropped its opening game at these Olympics and had a difficult time shaking free of the Czech Republic in their group-play finale. None of that matters now.
The Americans are headed to the quarterfinals at the Tokyo Games - with a shot of being good as gold once again.
Jayson Tatum scored 27 points, Kevin Durant added 23 and set a pair of USA Basketball men's Olympic records, and the U.S. defeated the Czechs 119-84 on Saturday to clinch a berth in the knockout stage.
Kevin Durant is the all time leading scorer for the US men's team after scoring 23 pointsInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Zach LaVine scored 13 points, Jrue Holiday had 11 and JaVale McGee finished with 10 points for the U.S. The Americans shot 7 for 20 in the first quarter - then made 33 of 44 shots over the next 26 minutes, including a staggering 21-for-25 start to the second half.
'It's fun to watch,' Holiday said, 'and fun to be part of.'
The U.S. (2-1) finished second behind France in Group A, but will join the French, Australia and the winner of Sunday's game between Slovenia and Spain as a top-four seed for Tuesday's quarterfinals based on FIBA's tiebreaker system that includes point differential.
Those quarterfinal matchups will be decided in a draw on Sunday night, but the U.S. has now assured itself of not having to face any of the three group winners until at least the semi-finals.
Jrue Holiday (right) scored 11 points during the win over The Czech Republic on Saturday
Blake Schilb scored 17 for the Czech Republic (1-2), which led by 10 early and was still within 60-54 midway through the third quarter.
In a flash, the Czech hope of a stunner ended there.
'I think the first half, we played amazing...Second half, we ran out of gas,' Czech Republic coach Ronen Ginzburg said.
Durant - who passed Carmelo Anthony as both the U.S. Olympic men's all-time points and all-time field goals leader during the game - hit a 3-pointer to end the third quarter, capping a 22-6 run that put the Americans up by 22 going into the final quarter.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer