August 2 - The star-studded United States men's basketball "Dream Team" continued to prove the show stealers at London 2012 as they routed a helpless Nigeria 156-73 to record the highest ever score in the sport at the Olympic Games on their quest for gold.
NBA big-hitters Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James were once again on show in front a packed and vibrant crowd here, while 28-year-old Carmelo Anthony (pictured above, centre) of the New York Nicks led the destruction for his team with a phenomenal game-high 37 points, a US Olympic basketball record.
He was ably supported by Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who contributed with 21 points, while Bryant, Durant and James also chipped in despite spending the majority of the game on the bench with head coach Mike Krzyzewski resting his biggest stars for the knock out – which they have now qualified for with their so far unbeaten campaign.
The phenomenal 156 points by the Dream Team eclipses the previous highest score at the Olympics which was set by the Brazilian men's team at Seoul 1988 when they defeated Egypt 138-85.
"Tonight was one of the games where we were hitting every shot," said star of the show Anthony.
"We had games before; even we were playing in the friendly games, where we didn't hit the threes and we had to win the game on the defensive end or doing other things.
"Tonight we won the game by making shots, shooting a very high percentage."
There were even more records in the game for the US as their 78-45 half-time lead was the highest ever, surpassing the previous points best set of 72 by Brazil during the first half of a game against China also at Seoul 24 years' ago.
It is also the third largest margin of victory in any Olympic men's game and the highest ever margin by the US, with coach Krzyzewski even admitting that he took some of his stars off so as not to inflict further damage on Nigeria.
"The first thing we did was take LeBron and Kobe off in the second half and even with Carmelo shooting like that, we benched him and we didn't take any fast breaks," he said.
"We have to take a shot every 24 seconds and the score is irrelevant to us, we play to win.
"There is no way in the world that we would set out to humiliate another team."
The stunning performance from the defending champions will send a chilling warning for their rivals and also continue to draw debate on how this crop of superstars compare with the original USA Dream Team of the Barcelona 1992 Olympics that featured the likes of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
That team was considered the best ever but Bryant feels his 2012 side could beat the legendary 1992 team.
"It would be a tough one, but I think we would pull it out," he said.
"People who think we can't beat that team for one game, they are crazy.
"To sit there and say we can't, it's ludicrous.
"We can beat them one time."
James was equally bold.
"The 92 Dream Team paved the way for all of us," said the Miami Heat star.
"We understand what they did for our game, but we also are big-time competitors as well so if we got the opportunity to play them in a game we feel like we would win."
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