LONDON — He could have thrown a pebble at a peephole, and it would have gone in.
Carmelo Anthony erupted for 37 points — including 10 3-pointers — in a transcendent performance that helped the star-studded U.S. men’s basketball team destroy helpless Nigeria from the opening tip with a record-setting barrage of baskets in a 156-73 victory at the London Olympics on Thursday night.
Even the Dream Team never beat anybody that badly.
It was the biggest blowout in American Olympic history, eclipsing a 72-point victory over Thailand in the 1956 Melbourne Games, and Anthony set a national single-game scoring record.
“We had it going,” Anthony said. “It could have been anybody out there on the court, playing against us. … It wouldn’t have mattered, if we were shooting the ball like that.” In a word?
The Americans shot an astonishing 71 percent, and made nearly as many 3-pointers (29) as two-pointers (30). They broke the Olympic scoring record of 138 points midway through the fourth quarter, and rose from the bench to slap hands with coach Mike Krzyzewski when it was announced to the crowd.
The victory clinched a place in the knockout round for the 3-0 Americans, who seemed to send a message to the rest of the field by attempting 46 3-pointers (they tried only 37 from inside the arc) and shooting until the very end.
“We just shot better than any team in a game that I’ve ever coached,” said
Krzyzewski, who has coached 1,216 of them in his college coaching career. “Our guys just couldn’t miss.”
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).