The United States earned a top seed in the knockout round of the world championships with an 88-51 victory over Iran yesterday in Istanbul in the first meeting between the countries with a history of contentious relations.
The US team, which downplayed the political aspect of the game, methodically pulled away in the first half, wearing down the Asian champions with its depth and athleticism.
Kevin Love scored 13 points and Kevin Durant had 12 for the Americans (4-0), who will meet the fourth-place team from Group A in the Round of 16.
The Americans shot 58 percent from the field and scored 23 points off turnovers.
Hamed Haddadi scored 19 points for Iran (1-3) and Arsalan Kazemi had 14.
The only sparring on the court was a playful bump between Haddadi and US forward Rudy Gay, teammates with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies.
“We should leave politics to the politicians,’’ US center Tyson Chandler said. “We’re here to play basketball.’’
The countries have feuded for decades and their relations have deteriorated in recent years, with the United States supporting sanctions against Iran for continuing with programs it believes could be used to create nuclear weapons.
The US team tried to keep the focus on the floor, with coach Mike Krzyzewski saying he had played in Iran in the 1970s with an Armed Forces team and had great respect for the country.
Croatia 84, Tunisia 64 — Bojan Bogdanovic scored 19 points for Croatia (2-2), which scored the game’s first 10 points. Macram Ben Romdhane scored 23 points for Tunisia (0-4), which ends preliminary Group B play today against the United States.
Slovenia 80, Brazil 77 — Jaka Lakovic scored 20 points, including consecutive 3-pointers to halt a furious Brazil comeback, and Slovenia blew nearly all of a 17-point lead before holding on to take sole possession of second place in Group B.
Serbia 94, Australia 79 — Nenad Krstic returned from a three-game suspension for a brawl and had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Serbia (3-1) in Group A play. Milos Teodosic, who was given a two-game suspension, added 19 points for Serbia, which clinched a place in the knockout round.
Australia (2-2) pulled within 3 points with 2:07 left on Matt Nielsen’s 3-pointer, but got no closer.
Angola 92, Germany 88 — Olimpio Cipriano scored 30 points for Angola (2-2), which rallied from a 10-point deficit. Angola advances to the second round from Group A, while Germany (1-3) was eliminated. Jan Jagla led Germany with 23 points.
Argentina 88, Jordan 79 — Luis Scola scored 30 points, his third straight game with at least that many, to lead top-ranked Argentina (4-0) to its fourth straight win in Group A.
Russia 89, China 80 — Sergey Monya scored 17 points and Sasha Kaun added 16 to lead Russia (3-1), which advanced to the Round of 16 in Group C play. Sun Yue scored 19 points for China (1-3).
Greece 97, Ivory Coast 60 — Nick Calathes, who played at Florida, scored 15 points to lead Greece (3-1), which secured a spot in the knockout round.
Angel Vassalo scored 19 points for Puerto Rico (1-3), which needed a win to guarantee a spot in the knockout round.
New Zealand 71, Canada 61 — Kirk Penney scored 18 points to help New Zealand (2-2) eliminate Canada (0-4) in Group D play. Jevohn Shepherd led Canada with 15 points.
Spain 91, Lebanon 57 — Marc Gasol scored 25 points to lead defending champion Spain (2-2) into the knockout round. Jackson Vroman led Lebanon (1-3) with 22 points.
Lithuania 69, France 55 — Jonas Maciulis had 19 points and Linas Kleiza added 15 for Lithuania (4-0), which clinched the top spot in Group D. Nicolas Batum led France (3-1) with 13 points.