Flashback: The Dream Team Defeats Puerto Rico 115-77
Having trounced Puerto Rico 119-81 almost a month earlier in the Tournament of the Americas, the Dream Team wasn't about to be lulled into believing they could go out on the court and just go through the motions.
With the desired Olympic gold medal now in sight, the U.S. team started like it had been shot out of a cannon. Behind seven points from Larry Bird, and four more from Michael Jordan and Karl Malone, the U.S. jetted out to a 17-0 lead in the first 4:45 of the game.
"I thought we were going to shut them out for while there," joked Malone.
But to Puerto Rico's credit, they did not roll over and die. In fact, Puerto Rico ripped off the next 13 points to pull within four, 17-13. But a pair of free throws by David Robinson ended the Puerto Rico run. The U.S. awoke for good as Robinson added six more points and Clyde Drexler pumped in a pair of 3-point field goals during a USA 20-7 run that pushed the U.S. lead to 37-20 with 7:00 remaining in the first half.
Grabbing a 67-40 lead at half after Scottie Pippen nailed a 3-point shot at the buzzer, the U.S. finished the contest as impressively as it had started, outscoring Puerto Rico 16-6 over the final 4:40 and earning the 115-77 win and the right to advance to the semifinals.
Chris Mullin, the USA's talented long range shooter, further enhanced his outside shooting reputation by nailing three-of-five 3-point tries and accounted for a team-high 21 points. Robinson finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, and Johnson had 13 points (three-of-five 3-point field goals) and seven assists. Pippen and Malone each tallied 12 points, and Christian Laettner, the only non NBA superstar, had his most impressive showing of the Olympics chipping in 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds and three blocked shots in 11 minutes of action.
"It's pretty hard to evaluate (how well the U.S. played) because of the margin of victory," said head coach Chuck Daly. "We have not had to play hard to win. Once we get a certain margin, the game just slows to a walk."