In the first real Olympic test for both teams, Team USA defeated Australia, 98-88, to improve its record to 3-0 in Group A with just two games remaining before the knockout phase begins.
The Americans entered the game on a roll, winning their first two games against China and Venezuela by a combined 101 points.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, only three games during Team USA’s current 71-game winning streak were decided by five points or less. It looked for a while like this was either going to be a loss or at least another slim margin.
Australia entered Wednesday’s matchup ranked 11th in the FIBA world rankings, though this team was clearly better than that with a roster featuring NBA talent like Matthew Dellavedova, Andrew Bogut and Patty Mills.
The Australians had Team USA out of sorts early, jumping out to a 25-17 lead late in the first quarter.
Anthony was on fire during that first quarter, scoring 14 of the team’s 29 points in the opening 10 minutes. He surpassed LeBron James’ career scoring mark of 273 points to take over the top spot on the U.S. list and ended the game with 31 points.
The Australians responded with a 10-0 spurt in the second quarter after falling behind, 36-31.
At halftime, the United States found itself trailing, 54-49, with a lot of adjustments to make. It went into the locker room shooting just 37 percent overall, including Kevin Durant going 2-of-10. Australia was shooting 68 percent from the field, which only compounded the problems.
It was an effective strategy for Team USA. Anthony delivered one of the key shots halfway through the fourth quarter, nailing another three-pointer to give his team an 83-76 advantage.
The problem for Australia wasn’t that its offense stopped making shots, but the defense that was so disruptive early eventually wore down against a bigger and more physical United States team. Mills was terrific, dropping 30 points, and Dellavedova had a team-high 11 assists and six rebounds.