Just three minutes into Thursday’s Olympic group play game between Team USA and Nigeria, Kobe Bryant had already hit a three, a pull-up J and two free throws for seven points in a 13-0 run from which the Americans didn’t come close to looking back, ultimately setting scoring records with a 156-73 win.
The most the Dream Team had ever scored was 127, the U.S. record was 133 and the Olympic record 138. See ya.
By the 4:20 mark, Kobe had added a turnaround jumper, a contested three-pointer and a breakaway two-handed reverse flush to score 14 points in a 25-10 start before taking a seat on the bench. He was well on pace to hit his season high from the NBA season, 48 against Phoenix, but of course wouldn’t get the minutes.
His teammates, particularly Carmelo Anthony — who finished with a U.S. Olympic record 37 points behind 10 of 12 shooting from three — picked up from where Kobe left off. The Knicks wing pushed a ridiculous first quarter scoring total to 49 points as the Americans nailed 11 triples. That is not a typo.
Bryant played five more minutes in the second quarter, totaling just 11 in the game as the team continues to save his legs, adding another bucket to finish with 16 points plus three boards and two assists. He helped Coach Krzyzewski’s team take a 78-45 lead into halftime.
Team USA’s bench, albeit full of NBA All-Stars, played even better defense in the second half, holding Nigeria to 17 and 11 points in the third and fourth quarters.
Bryant played the role of head cheerleader in the second half, just as he did in the team’s previous win against Tunisia, ahead of Saturday and Monday games against Lithuania and Argentina.
The Americans finished with an absurd 59 of 83 from the field (71.1 percent) and 29 of 46 from three (63 percent), holding Nigerian to 41.2 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from three. Team USA assisted on 38 field goals, swiped 12 steals and forced 24 turnovers while committing just seven.
Group A leader Team USA matched the 3-0 records of Spain and Russia in Group B, and boy did they do it in style.