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A Nigerian nightmare

As if the U.S. needed to shoot well too.

They’re already the top men’s basketball team in the Olympics, able to drive and dunk and put on a display better than anybody.

So they drove a stake through Nigeria in a preliminary game, 156-73, making massive numbers of three-pointers Thursday and smashing the Olympic record for points in a game.

Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points, the most ever for a U.S. player in the Olympics, and set another U.S. Olympic record by making 10 three-pointers (he needed only 12 attempts).

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The U.S. had 49 points in the first quarter, an Olympic-record 78 at halftime and led through three quarters, 119-62. Those are 10-minute quarters, by the way.

“We just shot better than any team in a game that I’ve ever coached,” U.S. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

The former Olympic mark of 138 points (Brazil, 1988, against Egypt) was history before the midpoint of the fourth quarter.

The U.S. made 29 of 46 three-point attempts, a stunningly crisp 63%.

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“It’s a great accomplishment to get that record,” said Anthony, who played a little more than 14 minutes and left for good with 4:48 to go in the third quarter. “We did it in a very classy way.”

Afterward, Krzyzewski shook his head when a foreign reporter asked Nigeria forward Ike Diogu if the U.S. ran up the score and failed to adhere to an unspoken Olympic code.

“The first thing we did was not play LeBron [James] and Kobe [Bryant] in the second half,” Krzyzewski said sternly. “The second thing we did is, even with Carmelo shooting like that, we benched him.

“I take offense to [the reporter’s] question because there’s no way in the world our program, the United States, is out to humiliate anyone.”

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Said Diogu, a former NBA player who had 27 points for Nigeria: “I don’t think they went out of their way to try to humiliate us. At least, I didn’t feel that way.”

Russell Westbrook had 21 points and Bryant had 16 for the U.S., which already dismantled two other Olympic opponents -- France, 98-71, and Tunisia, 110-63.

The U.S. seemingly even edged closer to a gold medal before the game started. Spain, seen as the biggest threat to the U.S., edged winless Britain, 79-78.

The British, now 0-3, had one NBA player on their roster, Luol Deng, and some other friendly chaps.

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In other games, France beat Lithuania, 82-74; Argentina beat Tunisia, 92-69; Australia beat China, 81-61; and Russia beat Brazil, 75-74.

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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