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Scottie Pippen

Flashback: 1996 USA Men Trounce China 133- 70 in Record-Setting Performance

  • Date:
    Jul 26, 1996

Scottie Pippen's 24-point performance led seven U.S. players in double-digit scoring as the U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball Team set four USA Olympic records and, in the process, trounced China 133-70 in front of an Olympic basketball record crowd of 34,417 on July 26 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

“I think it had a lot to do with the pace,” stated Pippen. “A lot of teams are slowing the ball on offense and it has been hard for us to find our rhythm and find a flow to the basketball game. Tonight, I think we came out and the floor was a lot more open, the spacing was there for us and I think we took advantage of the opportunities that the defense game us."

Four U.S. Olympic records were set, and one tied in the impressive USA showing.

Reggie Miller, who hit five-of-eight 3-point field goals, established new USA standards for made and attempted 3-point field goals in a game. Miller's five 3s surpassed the previous U.S. record of three which had been set by six U.S. players, while Larry Bird held the prior record for attempted 3-pointers with seven. The U.S. team also set a new USA record for assists in a game with 41, bettering the previous mark of 36 which was set in 1988. The team's total of 133 points were the most ever by a USA team, surpassing the old mark of 127 which was recorded twice by the 1992 U.S. Olympic team, and the 133 points registered were the third-most points ever scored in Olympic men's basketball competition.

"This was the best shooting performance we've had," stated USA head coach Lenny Wilkens. "What we wanted to do was get better as the tournament went on and as Scottie (Pippen) said, tonight the opportunity was there. (China) tonight didn't slow the ball down as much as other teams that we've played and so that gave us a lot of opportunities to run.”

Added Wilkens, "Our goal is to win the gold medal and that's the bottom line. That where our focus is."

China won the opening tip and scored the game's first basket to go up 2-0 at the 19:52 mark and from there on out it was all USA to the delight of the capacity crowd. The United States' Pippen and Karl Malone combined for 14 points in an 18-4 U.S. run that put the home team in command 18-6 with 14:09 to go in the half. Both teams traded baskets over the next 2:06 and China closed within 10 points at 22-12 with 12:03 left in the first period. However, the U.S. proved to be too much for the Chinese team as the Americans ran to a 37-point, 65-28 halftime lead. The second half was more of the same as the USA ran to the 133-70 victory.

China shot just 48.3% (29-60 FGs) from the floor and 30.4% (7-23 3pt FGs) from 3-point, while the U.S. shot 64.2% (52-81 FGs) and a solid 50.0% (12-24 FGs) from behind the 3-point line.

Anfernee Hardaway dished off for 10 assists and Gary Payton added nine more as the U.S. recorded a USA single-game record 41 assists. The Americans' aggressive defense forced 33 China turnovers and recorded 21 steals.

In addition to Pippen's 24 points, Grant Hill came off the bench to score 19, Miller added 17, Hardaway had 15, Mitch Richmond scored 14 and Shaquille O'Neal, who grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds, and Malone chipped in 13 and 11 points, respectively. Hill picked the opponent's pockets five times and Hardaway and John Stockton each registered four steals.

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