I don’t know where to start with this game. I guess I’ll begin by pointing out the multiple statistical feats, anomalies and broken world records starting off with the final score, which was 156 – 73:
- Team USA’s 156 points broke an Olympic record previously held by Brazil, whose 138 points in 1988 netted them a win against their Egyptian opponents.
- Needless to say, their 78 point first half also broke an Olympic record. Slow starts no more!
- The 83 point margin for victory also set another Olympic record.
- Team USA’s 29 three pointers made set a record for any United States basketball team.
- Carmelo Anthony’s ten three’s en-route to a 37 point night set the Olympic record for points scored in a single game. He was one point away from breaking American basketball history and matching Kevin Durant’s 38 points scored in 2010. He did it in 14 minutes.
- Read that again. He scored 37 points in fourteen minutes. He took a three-pointer every minute he was on the floor.
- Four. Teen. Min. Utes.
- Of Team USA’s 156 points, only nine of them came from the free throw line. The Nigerian national team actually held the advantage in free throw shooting, with a +2 advantage.
- Team USA’s 63% shooting from beyond the arc was superior to Nigeria’s two-point field goal percent by a whole ten percent. It was superior to Nigeria’s over all field goal percent by over 20 percent. In fact, the American’s connected on one more three-pointer than the Nigerian’s did on total baskets.
- Not significant by any means, but the Nigerian team had a guy with the first name “Chamberlain” on the team. The basketball gods STILL weren’t on their side.
- USA doubled Nigeria’s score. And then added ten more points.
I think I’m done. This is how it happened:
Team USA broke the cap off the lid early, with Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant scoring the team’s first 13 points while the Nigerian’s remained scoreless. Their first basket followed a quick dunk from Lebron James, who finished the game with just six points and five assists. Bryant continued to go off, relentlessly working away at the under-qualified Nigerian defenders, scoring 16 points in the first half. It was raining 3′s from Durant, Kobe and even Westbrook and at one point of the game, the United States field goal’s read 18-22 while Carmelo Anthony was being given some time at the center spot. By the end of the first quarter, they had scored 49 points.
The second quarter was a little less exciting for team USA, considering how they scored only 29 points, courtesy of James Harden. Seriously, if any team breaks this scoring record but keeps it under 175-mark I’m blaming it on Harden. For the second game in this tournament, he got destroyed by an international player on defense. I’m telling you, if team USA ever had playground style scrimmages, he would get picked last every single time. Not to say that being the worst player on the team that’s going to win gold in the Olympics is a bad thing. It’s just funny to watch.
The third quarter is where Carmelo Anthony did most of his damage. If there’s one word to cap off his performance… it would have to be “special.” I can’t tell what’s more impressive: the fact that Melo scored 37 points in 14 minutes, the fact that team USA didn’t need it at all or that former Knicks coach and assistant to Coach K, Mike D’Antonio’s head hasn’t exploded yet.
Heading into the fourth quarter, it was all about the Anthony Davis lob count, breaking records and a collective feeling of “SMH”. I guess this is what the national team is capable of when they don’t get off to slow starts. This is the type of game that would justify a mercy rule in international play.
This display by the United States team wasn’t without their flaws though. The defense was sub-par and Ike Diogu’s 27 points for Nigeria showed for it. However, the question to whether those deficiencies are enough to justify a loss in this tournament is still the same: Not at all.
Now, I’d hate to start the Dream Team comparisons again, but I’ve got to give Kobe a little bit of credit here. If those two teams were to play ten times, the 2012 team could probably net one win, on an off night for the greatest Olympic basketball team of all time.
Team USA will be facing Lithuania Saturday morning, 9:20 EST, for those of you who live on this side of the hemisphere. I’d love to say something like “if USA doesn’t pick up it’s defense, the outcome will be different” but it’s just not true, despite Lithuania’s team being eons better than Nigeria’s.