The U.S. team had scored 100 points by the middle of the third quarter. It was that kind of night for the Americans.
Two Olympic marks, several U.S. records fell.
Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points, dropping 10 of 12 3-pointers, and the Americans rewrote the Olympic record book with a scintillating shooting performance and 156-73 win Thursday night, an epic blowout that seemed to send a message to the rest of the men's tournament field.
Anthony set the American 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 3-pointers (26), field goals (59) and field-goal percentage (71).
Incredibly, they eclipsed the 100-point mark with 5 minutes left in the third.
And when Andre Iguodala hit a 3-pointer with 4:37 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 Krzyzewki and his coaching staff.
The last group in England with this many records was The Beatles.
Kobe 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 had 21 and Kevin Durant 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 nicknamed the Black Mamba was as deadly as ever. Bryant 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 best team on the planet.
But the U.S. was scary indeed.
Durant buried three 3-pointers, Bryant and Anthony added two from long-range and when Kevin Love came off the bench and knocked down his first 3, the U.S. team's shooting gallery of stars had opened a 41-15 lead and made the p.a. 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.