Nigeria's nightmare

Kobe Bryant scores two of America's 49 points in the first quarter. The U.S. finished with a record 156 points.
Kobe Bryant scores two of America's 49 points in the first quarter. The U.S. finished with a record 156 points. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: August 03, 2012

LONDON - The U.S. team had scored 100 points by the middle of the third quarter. It was that kind of night for the Americans.

They broke a few records, shattered others. They hardly missed.

Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points, making 10 of 12 three-pointers, and the Americans rewrote the Olympic record book with a scintillating shooting performance and 156-73 win over Nigeria Thursday night, an epic blowout that seemed to send a message to the rest of the men's tournament field.

Anthony set the U.S. Olympic mark for points in a game - in less than three quarters. The U.S. also set the Olympic record for points in a game and points in a half (78). The Americans bettered the U.S. records as well for three-pointers (26) and field goals (59) made and field-goal percentage (71).

Incredibly, they eclipsed the 100-point mark with 5 minutes left in the third.

And when the Sixers' Andre Iguodala hit a three-pointer with 4 minutes, 37 seconds left, the Americans had surpassed the previous Olympic record of 138 points set by Brazil against Egypt in 1988. When the record was announced to the mesmerized crowd, all the players seated on the U.S. bench got up and slapped hands with coach Mike Krzyzewski and his coaching staff.

"When we get hot, it's a big problem," Kobe Bryant said. "So you have all these guys on one team and they all get hot on the same night, it's tough."

Bryant scored 16 points - 14 in the first quarter - for the Americans, who scored 49 points in the first and didn't let up after scoring 78 in the first 20 minutes.

Russell Westbrook finished with 21 points and Kevin Durant had 14 for the U.S., which will play Lithuania on Saturday.

Ike Diogu scored 27 to lead Nigeria (1-2).

Bryant was mostly a non-factor in wins over France and Tunisia, playing just 21 minutes and getting into early foul trouble. But from the outset against Nigeria, the two-time Olympian was as deadly as ever. He set the tone by scoring seven quick points as the U.S. (3-0) raced to a 13-0 lead, a haymaker that stunned the Nigerians, some of whom had promised they wouldn't be intimidated by the Americans.

But the U.S. was scary indeed.

Durant buried three three-pointers, Bryant and Anthony added two from long range and when Kevin Love came off the bench and knocked down his first three, the U.S. team's shooting gallery of stars had opened a 41-15 lead and made the PA announcer's pregame comment that "anything is possible" seem prophetic.

He was talking about a possible upset. The only surprise in the first quarter was when the U.S. missed.

"We were looking forward to this game, playing against the U.S.," Diogu said. "You know we wanted to use this to show the world what type of team we are. We just came out flat, turned the ball over too many times and they made us pay every time."

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