It was never a secret U.S. vs. Nigeria was never going to be close. The betting line grew to 42 points before the game, which seemed like it could be high even for a mismatch like this, the best team in the world against the team making its Olympic debut. First, the Team USA was totally off-mark shooting from the short international three-point line, a trend that looked worse with a pretty sluggish start to the first quarter against Tunisia. Then, you figured Nigeria was going to play inspired in its Olympic debut against the U.S. It turns out the line was ridiculous, but not because the guys in the red, white and blue got up by 35 and cruised it in from there. Because it was ridiculously low. After the Americans dropped 49 points in the FIRST QUARTER, they went on to win by 83 points, nearly doubling the line. The final: 156-73. It was the worst beating in Olympic basketball history — and it was an efficient beating. The U.S. hit 11-of-13 from three and 18-of-22 from the field overall in that first quarter. Let’s recap the hilarious stats that got them to even that point. At point point it was Kobe 14, Nigeria 10. Then the U.S. had 38 points on 20 possessions. To put those numbers in perspective, the Olympic points-scored record was 138 in 1988 and the three-point record was 13 in a game (that went down by half). It got obliterated by USA’s 29 triples. … Nigerian players were telling the press afterward that it was almost awe-inspiring to be a part of something that one-sided. Certainly it was unprecedented to see Carmelo Anthony pop off for 37 in a mere 14 minutes — he hit 10 of 12 threes. “It’s hard to explain,” Melo said afterward. “If you’ve never done it you would never know what I’m talking about it.” … Kobe (16 points and didn’t even play in the second half) had an alley-oop throwing the ball to KD (14 points) from nearly out of bounds, and that started an alley-oop playlist on repeat. A performance like that takes the shine off any game no matter how inspired the opponent is and Nigeria scored fewer and fewer points each quarter, until just 11 in the fourth. By that time Anthony Davis was probably angling for three-point attempts. Nigeria’s Ike Diogu, a guy some have said is using this tournament and the qualifier to get to London as a way back to the NBA, dropped 27 points but seemed indifferent to defense once he realized, what was the point? Hand in the face, whatever, the U.S. shot 70 percent. … Elsewhere in the Olympics, Spain had a troubling one-point win over Great Britain. GB is not a good team, collecting some guys for essentially a one-off tourney run. Spain has long been seen as the best U.S. challenger, but then their point Juan Carlos Navarro, hurt his foot in the Oly opener and is less than 100 percent. The Iberians were already missing Ricky Rubio, of course. … France went on to continue its surprising run by beating a hot Lithuania team, 82-74, thanks to Tony Parker‘s 27 points and Nicolas Batum‘s 21. … One of the plays of the day was this three with three seconds left by Russia to beat Brazil. Three-ball, corner pocket.
When small ball helps win a team a title, what’s the rush to change the formula? Miami must be thinking that because of what Pat Riley said Thursday regarding the team adding a veteran center. As you remember, Chris Bosh, a natural four, was the de facto middleman until his injury against the Pacers in the playoffs. Then Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem chipped in and LeBron played all five positions at times to mitigate the disadvantage. Riley isn’t concerned with not having a veteran voice at that position, saying on Miami radio that the Heat won’t need one. While he said they’ll keep the search going, “unless there’s an injury, we really don’t need a center.” The strategy undoubtly works, but how feasible it is over a full season is squarely the question for coach Erik Spoelstra. Could the Heat pull off that for a whole year? … Get ready to have your mind blown by the concept of these basketball shorts. So long, wiping your hands on your shoes. … There’s always a sliding scale with draft picks and how long it takes to call them a failed experiment. It seems like the jury is in on Wesley Johnson‘s time in Minnesota (guilty as an underachiever) but Phoenix believes in him. He called the fit in Minny wrong for him. The Suns get to see if that dry heat can help resurrect his career. … College hoops around Thanksgiving is one of the best times to watch, in our opinion, with so many tournaments going on and matchups you won’t otherwise see — like Kentucky vs. Kansas last year in MSG. One of the ones to watch this year is the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, Nov. 22-24. The field will be Duke, Louisville, Memphis, Minnesota, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Stanford and Virginia Commonwealth. … Finally, Dirk Nowitzki and Germany aren’t playing in London, but the big Mav reminisced Thursday about carrying the flag in for his home country in 2008. After calling it one of the coolest things he’s ever done he said that when he has to drag himself out of bed, he’ll call it quits. Hello DFW-area mattress companies: endorsement opportunity. … We’re out like Nigeria’s dignity.
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