Mike Krzyzewski has won 927 college basketball games, made 11 Final Fours, won four NCAA Championships and earned an Olympic gold medal since landing his first head coaching gig at Army in 1975. In those 37 years, he’d never sat courtside for anything this ludicrous.
“Well, obviously, we just shot better than any team in a game that I have ever coached,” Kryzewski said after Team USA’s 156-73 dismantling of Nigeria.
When the buzzer sounded, finally and mercifully, Team USA had set U.S. Olympic records for three-pointers in a game (29), three-pointers attempted (46), field goals made (59), field goal percentage (71.1 percent), had tied the U.S. mark for assists (41) and saw Carmelo Anthony break the single-game U.S. Olympic scoring mark with 37 points.
The States’ 156 points were an overall Olympic record, 18 more than the 138 that Oscar Schmidt’s Brazilians hung on Egypt back in 1988 and 23 more than the 133 that Dream Team II scored against Hu Weidong and China in 1996.
The second leading scorer on that Chinese team? A 17-year-old Wang Zhizhi, who’s still playing, starting, but hardly jumping for Team China at age 33 in these 2012 Olympics.
Yet if you watch the highlights of Grant Hill and Co. against the Chinese in Atlanta, you’ll notice that Liu Yudong gave China their first bucket merely one pass and a dribble into the ballgame.
Three seconds in, China was winning this thing.
Nigeria wasn’t quite as early to the party.
By the time the Hornets’ Al-Farouq Aminu dropped in a pair of free throws with 6:43 left in the first, the U.S. had already inflated a 13-point cushion.
That 13-2 lead blossomed into a 49-25 advantage by the end of the first quarter. Considering it took Nigeria 40 minutes to score 60 against Tunisia, logic told us that a comeback was improbable.
Then Carmelo Anthony came along and ripped logic a new one.
The Knickerbocker went 13-of-16 and made 10 of his 12 threes (U.S. record for threes made, attempted) to get his U.S.-record setting 37. What’s even wilder is that he needed just 14:29 to do it.
Quick: close your eyes and guess which American’s record he broke. It’s not Jordan or Bird or Barkley or Hakeem or Magic or Shaq or Kobe or LeBron.
None of those clowns.
Try Beijing Ducks All-Star Stephon Marbury, who put up 31 points for The Repressed Dream Team in 2004. In retrospect, Starbury netting 31 in an Olympic game should have been a warning to us all that trouble was afoot in Athens.
The way Melo’s playing, it might be a while before he seeks refuge in the Chinese Basketball Association a la Steph.
“The way that [my teammates] tell me to shoot the ball, encouraging me to make shots, take shots, but then just to feel it every time, that touch,” Anthony said.
“It’s kind of hard to explain it. If you’ve never done it, you really wouldn’t understand what I’m talking about.”
One man might understand, and that’s Kevin Durant. That’s because the 38 he dropped on Lithuania in the 2010 World Championships still stands as the overall U.S. record for international play.
And if you had Team USA in your office’s Olympic Poker Pool, you’re working on a nice little straight: Deron Williams had 13 points, Durant had 14, Kevin Love had 15, and Kobe Bryant had 16.
Russell Westbrook was second in scoring with 21 points that some might call “quiet,” but only because this bonanza of a contest was so overwhelmingly loud.
Team USA won by 83. There are eight teams in London that don’t average that many points per game. So naturally, the sportsmanship police were out in full, and one reporter asked Nigeria’s Ike Diogu if Team USA had tried to humiliate them by running up the tally.
Coach K didn’t take too kindly to the query.
“The first thing we did was not play LeBron and Kobe in the second half,” Krzyzewski said. “The second thing we did is, even with Carmelo shooting like that, we benched him.”
And what’s a coach to do when your “worst” five—let’s call it Westbrook, Harden, Iguodala, Love and The Brow—could secede from K’s Union and still compete for a medal all their own?
The last man to get in on the action was Andre Iguodala, whose two straight threes in the fourth quarter’s third minute pushed the USA’s total to 130.
“It only matters if we achieve our goals,” Iguodala said after the game. ”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.”
So 156 points isn’t the peak. Interesting.
You think the locals should be impressed by a measly 156 points? Please. There’s a reason it’s not called Average Britain: In the 1900 Olympics, the Devon and Somerset Wanderers of Great Britain defeated the French Athletic Club Union by 158.
It was the first, last and only time cricket was featured in the Summer Games.
If Thursday’s beatdown proved anything, it’s that the Team USA’s toughest opponent will be themselves argument is stale.
This is not golf. This is basketball, and Russia has a very good basketball team. The best outside the U.S. right now, as a matter of fact.
Thursday, that Russian basketball team played the similarly undefeated Brazil.
After Marcelinho Huertas put Brazil up two with six seconds remaining, Russian coach David Blatt (who hails from Framingham, Mass.) drew up a play for Vitaly Fridzon, who had made only one shot and a free throw up to that point.
Blatt’s confidence paid off, as Alexey Shved found Fridzon off the inbounds and Vitaly rose and hit from the corner, even as Leandro Barbosa rolled beneath his feet on a foul that went unwhistled.
The team Russia plays next is Spain, who narrowly escaped Great Britain today 79-78 after a furious 30-point fourth quarter by the Brits knocked Spain on their heels. Luol Deng had 26 points, 9 boards and 7 assists for the hosts, but it was his lack of awareness that cost GB a chance at a final shot.
After Deng had hit an off-balance three to cut the lead to one with five seconds remaining, Spain inbounded the ball to Jose Calderon. Instead of fouling, Deng—who had four fouls, one under the FIBA limit—sidestepped Calderon and let him run by as the clock unwound to triple zeroes.
It would have been the biggest win in British basketball history, and it wouldn’t have even been close. Great Britain is 0-3, yet has a significant opportunity to get in the win column on Saturday against Australia.
Lithuania rode 15 quick points from Martynas Pocius to a four-point lead over France at the half, but Tony Parker and Nicolas Batum combined for 48 points on just 25 shots and got Les Bleus the win, 82-74.
The Knicks’ newest signee and Argentina’s starting point guard Pablo Prigioni missed the game with kidney stones.