Today was the United States’ third game in group play and their opponent was the undermanned Nigeria team. Nigeria has some NBA players on its roster and had the potential to cause some problems for the Americans.
In Team USA’s previous game versus Tunisia, the squad struggled early but the second unit provided a great spark in the second half. USA is no doubt the best team in the tournament, but they must show that in all 40 minutes.
The United States began the game with their usual starting five, and unlike their last game, the lineup played well. Tunisia had surprised the starting five with their play, but this time around, the Americans were determined to get off to a fast start. Kobe Bryant came out of the gate focused and was ready to put the Nigerians away early. Kobe had seven quick points and put the Americans up 10-0 at the 7:52 mark.
The coaching staff could not have imagined a better start to the game, as the team began the period on a 13-0 run. Nigeria struggled on both ends of the court and momentum was completely on America’s side. Bryant continued with his stellar play and was the main offensive player for the USA. Bryant had 14 points and Team USA led 28-11 with 3:30 left in the quarter.
It was more of the same for Team USA as the quarter progressed and the squad did not lose a step when the second unit came on the court. The three-point shooting was amazing and that was the main weapon for the American. In the first 10 minutes, the United States hit 11 three-pointers and led 49-25. Bryant was the leading scorer with 14 points followed by Carmelo Anthony with 12.
The Nigerians had a very bad showing in the first period, and they wanted to make up for it in the second quarter. They had some nice moments in the opening minutes and their offense was looking nice. The big men were finding some success in the paint and it was clear they were gaining some confidence. Nevertheless, the Americans responded every time the opponent produced on the other end. At the 7:37 mark, the US was up 56-32.
Kobe Bryant was taking advantage of the weak Nigerian defense and everything seemed extremely easy. Bryant used his stellar footwork to get looks at the basket and there was nothing the opposition could do. In addition to Bryant’s hot hand, Team USA was getting into the open court and maintained their insurmountable lead. At the 3:40 mark, the Americans were up 68-36.
Everyone was knocking down shots for the US and it was clear that the Nigerians could do nothing to save their chances. The Americans were just too powerful and the matchup was never an actual contest. At halftime, the Americans led 78-45 with Anthony as the leading scorer with 19 followed by Kobe with 16.
The United States started the second half with a different lineup than in the first, giving the starters some extra minutes of rest. USA’s main stars did a great job opening up the lead, and it was expected that their time on the court would be limited moving forward. Still, the US used its talent to keep a large cushion and the Nigerians also had trouble competing with the reserves. At the 7:55 mark, the Americans held a 85-50 advantage.
New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony was at an elite level in the third quarter and there was nothing the opponent could do to stop him. Anthony surpassed Stephon Marbury’s record for the most points (31) scored by an American when he hit a jumper to give him 34 points. Anthony was unconscious from the three-point arc and hit nine threes with over a quarter and half left to play.
Anthony stole the show in the quarter and the entire arena was in awe with his incredible three point shooting. Anthony was taken out of the game shortly after his record breaking moment, but he had already cemented his legacy in Olympic basketball history.
After 30 minutes of play, the Americans led 119-62 thanks to ten threes by Carmelo Anthony and a total of 37 points.
The outcome of the game was decided well before the fourth quarter began, but the ten minutes were a chance for the Americans to set an Olympic record. This US entered the period trying to beat the record for the most points scored in an Olympic basketball game.
At the 7:13 mark of the period, Andre Iguodala hit a three which put the Americans at 130, three points higher than the most points the 1992 Dream Team scored. However, there was still the record set by Brazil that was yet to be broken.
To the surprise of many, the Brazilians had the record for the most points scored in an Olympic game at 138. It had stood for many years, but today, the 2012 USA team passed that mark at the 4:37 mark in the fourth. Again, it was Iguodala who hit a three, which put the Americans all by themselves at 139 points.
The USA also set the record for the most threes in a game with 29, smoking the previous number which was 13.
Once the final buzzer rang, the Americans walked away with a commanding 156-73. Kobe Bryant finished the game with 16 points, Kevin Durant had 14, Russell Westbrook scored 21 and Carmelo Anthony had the record with 37 points.