- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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LONDON – Why is everyone so impressed?
Or putting it another way: Did you know that Team USA’s 156-73 humbling of Nigeria from Thursday night is only the third most lopsided scoreline in Olympic basketball games played in London during the Summer Games?
You can look it up. At the original Olympics in London in 1948, Iraq had a team entered that somehow suffered two 100-point losses, first to Korea (120-20) and then to China (125-25).
Yet when it comes to the other pertinent numbers from Team USA’s 3 party, don’t worry. We’ve got ‘em all here for you, with the usual huge assist from ESPN Stats & Information:
The 83-point victory margin is the largest for the United States in its Olympic basketball history. The other five men’s basketball games Thursday at the Olympics, meanwhile, were decided by a combined 53 points.
Carmelo Anthony’s 37 points, in just 14 minutes of court time, were the most ever in the Olympics by any one American player. Ditto for Anthony’s 10 3-pointers in 12 attempts. The previous U.S. single-game records in those categories (31 points and six 3s, respectively) were established by Stephon Marbury at the 2004 Olympics. Charles Barkley (1992 versus Brazil) and Adrian Dantley (1976 versus Yugoslavia) have registered 30-point games in a U.S. uniform.
Team USA’s 156 points eclipsed the previous single-game Olympic record for offense by 18 points. Oscar Schmidt’s Brazil scored 138 points against Egypt in Seoul in 1988.
The Americans, in addition to easily exceeding their previous offensive best of 133 points against China in 1996, set national records for 3-pointers as a team (29), 3-point attempts (46), field-goal percentage (.711), first-half points (78) and field goals made (59). Their 41 assists tied a program record. The previous team record for 3s in one game was 13; this group had that beat by halftime with 14.
The Dream Team’s 68-point win in its Olympic opener against Angola was not the previous American pinnacle in terms of victory margin. The Bill Russell-led United States beat Thailand by 72 points -- 101-29 -- at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 to set the record freshly shattered against the Olympic first-timers from Nigeria.
The international 3-point line is obviously shorter. So, too, is the game: 40 minutes compared to 48 in the NBA. The defenses, furthermore, aren’t nearly as stout internationally. Just for fun, though, ESPN Stats & Information computed that Melo established a 102-point pace based on the 37 points he scored in just 14:29 … and a 122-point pace over 48 minutes.
Bovada.lv, a sports betting website, has established the United States as a 35-point favorite Saturday against Lithuania. The Americans covered a 24.5-point spread against France and obviously covered the Nigeria spread of 43 points by nearly doubling it. Yet it should be noted that they did fall short of covering a 54-point spread against Tunisia with a 47-point victory.