Flashback: USA Sets All-Time Olympic Scoring Record in 156-73 Blowout Of Nigeria
As the 3-pointers fell for the U.S Olympic Men’s Basketball Team (3-0) so did the records in a spectacular 156-73 win over Nigeria (1-2) on Thursday night at the Olympic Park Basketball Arena in London, England. With the 156 points, the USA men established the highest scoring performance by any team in Olympic history, while also rewriting six U.S. Olympic records and tying one more.
In just 14:29 played, Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks) tallied a U.S. Olympic single-game high of 37 points, and he shot 10-of-12 from 3-point to set U.S. Olympic marks for 3-pointers made and attempted.
As a team, the USA shot 29-of-46 from deep to set USA team highs for 3-pointers made and attempted. The USA was red-hot inside the arc as well, shooting 59-of-83 from the field to set the U.S. Olympic mark for field goals made and field goal percentage at 71.1%.
“Well, obviously, we just shot better than any team in a game that I have ever coached,” said USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University). “Our guys just couldn’t miss tonight, and they shared the ball. We had 41 assists. When you hit 29 threes, it’s very difficult to lose in a game like that. I thought Nigeria played us hard, and as much as we were scoring, initially they were scoring, too. We scored a lot of points but they scored a lot of points. I think that they got worn out and we just had more players. They also had their backup point guard out. (It was) just an incredible shooting performance that’s not going to happen very often.”
The balanced attack, which led to a U.S. Olympic record-tying 41 assists from the USA, including 11 dimes from Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), also featured 21 points from Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder); 16 points from Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), who played in the first half only; 15 points from Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves); 14 points from b (Oklahoma City Thunder); and 13 points on 3-of-3 3-point shooting from Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets).
“Well, the support system that we had, that I had with my teammates, you can’t explain that,” Anthony said. “The way that they tell me to shoot the ball, encouraging me to make shots, take shots, but then just to feel it every time, that touch, it’s kind of hard to explain it. If you’ve never done it, you really wouldn’t understand what I’m talking about just in terms of shooting the ball and shooting it well.”
The USA opened with a 13-0 run and had nearly set the record for team 3-pointers made in the first 10 minutes, shooting 11-of-14 from behind the arc in the first quarter – four of those came from Anthony, and three were by Durant. Nigeria tried to slow the pace with timeouts at 7:16 and 2:06, but its efforts were in vain as the first-quarter buzzer sounded on the USA’s highest scoring quarter of the tournament, 49-25.
“It’s funny to see, man, Durant said. “What Carmelo did was unbelievable. Hopefully we keep it up. We passed the ball well, our guys were knocking down our shots, our point guards made sure we got open shots and we were able to knock them down. So, it was a fun game.”
The USA cooled off slightly in the second period, but not by much. The USA tied the U.S. Olympic team 3-point record with a long ball from Anthony at 1:56 and set a new high when Williams sank his first three of the game at 1:35 to put the USA up 78-41. Nigeria closed out the first half with a score and a free throw, and the USA headed to the locker room with its highest scoring half thus far, 78-45.
The USA was disruptive on the defensive end as well, causing 14 turnovers in the first half and collected seven steals. Overall, the team caused 25 turnovers by Nigeria, which it converted into 42 points.
Along with Bryant, LeBron James (Miami Heat) rested the entire second half after tallying six points and five assists in 11 minutes.
Another 40-point quarter for the USA followed in the third as the Americans outscored Nigeria 41-17, to lead 119-62 headed into the final stanza. From 7:06 to 5:01 in the third period, Anthony hit five straight 3-pointers before he headed to the bench for the remainder of the game at 4:48 with the USA leading 100-54.
“(It was an) amazing experience just to be a part of that game,” said James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder). “Obviously the highest scoring in the Olympics. We beat a team by 83 points, and that’s unheard of. It was an honor to be a part of that.”
For all 40 minutes, the USA could not miss, and all 12 players had scored by the time Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers) sank consecutive threes at 7:49 and 7:13 to put the USA up 130-64. Nigeria never quit fighting, but was overmatched as the USA continued to stretch its lead all the way through the final buzzer on its 156-73 win.
The previous U.S. Olympic high had been 133 points set by the 1996 squad against China, and the previous all-time Olympic high was 138 points, which was recorded by Brazil in a win over Egypt in 1988.
“It’ll go down in history,” Iguodala said of the game. “It only matters if we achieve our goals. We’re trying to get better as a team going forward. That’s three games down and a few more to go. Our mission is to get the gold and we’re trying to peak at the right time.”
Ike Diogu led Nigeria with 27 points.
Also today in Group A, France (2-1) beat Lithuania (1-2) 82-74, and Argentina (2-1) topped Tunisia (0-3) 92-69.
In Group B, Australia (1-2) earned an 81-61win over China (0-3), Russia (3-0) edged Brazil (2-1) 75-74 and Spain (3-0) held on against Great Britain (0-3) for a 79-78 win.
Preliminary round play for the Americans continues on Aug. 4 against Lithuania at 2:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. EDT) and wraps up against Argentina at 10:15 p.m. (5:15 p.m. EDT) on Aug. 6. Olympic quarterfinal play is scheduled for Aug. 8, the semifinals are Aug. 10 and the finals are on Aug. 12.
Krzyzewski is assisted on the USA bench by Syracuse University and Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim and former NBA head coaches Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan.