US NBA stars rewrite record book to rout Nigeria
Carmelo Anthony says the US Olympic team of NBA stars was not trying to send a message to the original Dream Team when it scored the most points in a game in Olympic history in routing Nigeria 156-73.
But the Americans clearly sent a message to the basketball world on Thursday with an incredible shooting performance -- this team has bigger dreams than the 1992 originals and the skill to make them come true.
"We're not thinking about what the '92 Dream Team did," Anthony said. "We don't play them. We understand the standard those guys set. We're doing our own thing. We play for ourselves."
Anthony scored a game-high 37 points on 10-of-12 shooting from 3-point range, all of those figures setting US Olympic team records on a night when every American player scored and the team hit 59-of-83 shots, 71 percent.
"Just an incredible shooting performance," US coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We just shot better in a game than any team I have ever coached. Our guys just couldn't miss."
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who had 16 points, had called out the 1992 Dream Team before the Olympics, saying this year's squad could beat them in a game. But he was more guarded in his words after the epic triumph.
"It feels great to be part of history. There have been a lot of great teams who have come to the Olympics and posted some big scores," Bryant said. "It was an acknowledgement to each other that it was a job well done being part of it."
The US multi-millionaire lineup, 3-0 in the preliminary round, faced the issue of humiliating their African opponents, the last team to qualify for London, but Krzyzewski took issue with the subject.
"There's no way our program in the United States is out to humiliate anyone," he said. "The score is irrelevant to us. We want to win."
Anthony said players were "well aware" of the record and wanted to take advantage of the chance.
"We did it in a classy way. When we're shooting that well, that record could have come (against) any team," Anthony said.
"It's a great achievement to get that record. Any time you have a chance to reach a milestone, you have to take advantage of it."
Ike Diogu, an ex-NBA player who led Nigeria with 27 points, did not feel the US squad humiliated his team.
"I'm not angry. I don't think they went out of their way to humiliate us," he said. "When they shoot like that, I don't know if there is any team that can beat them."
Anthony, well off the one-game individual record of 55 points by Brazil's Oscar Schmidt from 1988, was at a loss for words trying to explain the feeling of having nearly every 3-pointer hit the mark.
"You can't explain it," he said. "Teammates encouraging me to take shots, then to feel it every time, that touch. It's hard to explain. If you haven't done it, it's hard to understand, that zone. I was shooting extremely well."
The old Olympic record for points by a team in one game was set by Brazil in 1988 at Seoul in a 138-85 preliminary round triumph over Egypt. Brazilians also had the prior mark from a 137-64 victory over India in 1980 at Moscow.
The Americans also eclipsed their own Olympic team record for points in a game, set in a 133-70 victory over China in 1996 at Atlanta.