Team USA vs Nigeria Post-Game Quotes
Jenny Maag, USA Basketball
On the game:
Well, obviously, we just shot better than any team in a game that I have ever coached. Our guys just couldn't miss tonight, and they shared the ball. We had 41 assists. When you hit 29 threes, it's very difficult to lose in a game like that. I thought Nigeria played us hard, and as much as we were scoring, initially they were scoring, too. We scored a lot of points but they scored a lot of points. I think that they got worn out and we just had more players. They also had their backup point guard out … just an incredible shooting performance that's not going to happen very often.
I know you said after the Tunisia game that you're not here to embarrass anybody, but what do you do in a situation like tonight where every shot your guys put up is going in?
Obviously the first thing we did was not play LeBron and Kobe in the second half. The second thing was, even with Carmelo shooting like that (10-of-12 from three-point range), we benched him. We didn't play Durant. We didn't take any fast breaks in the fourth quarter, and we played all zone. You have to take a shot every 24 seconds, and the shots we took happened to be hit. I take offense to his question, because there's no way in the world that our program in the United States is ever out to humiliate anyone. And a coach would be humiliated if we didn't play hard, but the score is irrelevant to us. We just want to play well and win.
What can a coach tell his players in a game like that?
We just said to play basketball. Again, we wanted to share the ball and when you hit that percentage of shots, it's incredible. We were 30-for-37 from two-point range and 29-for-46 from three-point range. So, I mean, you're just going to score a lot of points doing that. I hope we saved some for other games.
Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
On the game:
Tonight was just one of those nights where as a unit, we had it going. It could have been anybody out there on the court playing against us. When we shoot like that, shoot that well, the percentages that we shot out there tonight -- it was just incredible. One through twelve, everybody contributed. Everybody played off of each other, took the shots that were open, and tonight was just one of those nights where they went in.
How did you feel tonight and how did your teammates help make it happen?
Well, the support system that we had, that I had with my teammates, you can't explain that. The way that they tell me to shoot the ball, encouraging me to make shots, take shots, but then just to feel it every time, that touch, it's kind of hard to explain it. If you've never done it, you really wouldn't understand what I'm talking about just in terms of shooting the ball and shooting it well.
Is it tough to come out of a game like that? Did you want to stay in?
It's a game where I did what I did out there on the basketball court. I made shots. I was fine with coming out of the game. There were other guys who needed to play. I wasn't worried about staying in the game or coming out or anything like that. My number was called, a substitution took place, I came out and then I went on cheering for our other guys on the team.
Do you feel that you guys are unbeatable if you hit your three-pointers, and that the only way teams can play with you guys is if you're not hitting those three-pointers on a given night?
Tonight was one of those games where we were hitting them. We've had games before, even when we were playing in the friendly games, where we didn't hit threes and we had to win the game on the defensive end or doing other things. Tonight, we won the game by making shots and shooting a very high percentage. We've been winning games in different packages. Tonight we won the game because of the outside shots and then that opened up everything else.
Can you talk about Anthony Davis and his progression?
He fits in perfectly. He fits in well. The encouragement that we give him out there on the basketball court when he's in the game, just talking to him, he's learning as he goes along. We have guys that are constantly teaching him and giving him advice while he's out there on the basketball court or when he's on the bench watching, and when his number is called he's going out there and he's producing. So you can't ask for anything more from Anthony Davis than what he's giving us.
When did you realize you guys were going to break a scoring record or did you not realize that?
It's a great accomplishment to get that record. We did it in a very classy way. The way we played basketball tonight, the way we made shots, that record could have come (against) any team when we're shooting the ball like that. We were on the bench and we were well aware of the record. We have guys on this team that have a knowledge of the game of basketball. We understand the history of the game and what takes place and the records and things like that. We did talk about it. It's an accomplishment. Any chance you get to achieve a milestone or reach an accomplishment, you want to do it, and tonight was one of those nights.
Does this game compare at all to the Dream Team?
We play by ourselves. When we're out there on the basketball court, we're not thinking about what the 1992 Dream Team did or anything like that. We respect those guys and we understand what those guys did. We understand the standards that those guys set. But we're playing for ourselves right now, for our country, for this moment. We're not out there on the basketball court making plays and making shots and playing defense and saying, ‘This is the '92 Dream Team.' Those guys did what they did in 1992 and now we have the chance to do something special.
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
Did you try to do something special tonight?
Nah, we just tried to come out, play hard, just focus, compete and be effective, and it just turned out everybody was hot. Everybody kept making shots and it just kind of snowballed.
Did you guys high-five after you broke the record and what does this mean to you guys?
It's a part of history. We understand that there have been a lot of great teams that have come through here and I think it was just kind of an acknowledgment to each other that it was a job well done in terms of being a part of it.
Does this performance count in the debate of this team vs. the Dream Team of 1992?
I don't think so. This is just something, being a part of history, but that's where it stands.
Did you intend to come out and be aggressive offensively?
Not necessarily. I just come out, try to do the right thing defensively and create turnovers. I was more pleased with the three steals (*BOX SCORE INDICATES BRYANT ONLY HAD TWO STEALS*) that I had, that's it. If I have opportunities, I'm going to take them if they leave me open.
Have you ever seen three-point shooting like that before; is it because the three-point line is closer (in FIBA play than in the NBA)?
Not consistently. For everybody to shoot that well in one night, I mean, you have guys that individually, guys as individuals on their respective teams can get hot and it's a big problem, and then you have all of us on the same team and we all get hot on one night -- it's tough.
Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks)
Talk about the night that Carmelo Anthony had.
That was unbelievable. I expect those things from Carmelo. Some nights he just gets hot and there's nothing anybody can do about it. He's one of the best shooters in the world.
Have you ever been a part of a game like that?
I've been in a game before where a team has gotten off to a start, but not an entire game like that. We played four quarters like that. I've never seen four quarters put together like that in a basketball game.
Did you guys do anything different before the game tonight?
No. Our whole thing is we're never going to cheat the game. We're going to represent our country and we're going to come out and play hard every single second, and that's what we did. Like I said, guys shot the ball well, and we got off to a great start.
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
What was it like out there tonight?
It's funny to see, man. What Carmelo did was unbelievable. Hopefully we keep it up. We passed the ball well, our guys were knocking down our shots, our point guards made sure we got open shots and we were able to knock them down. So, it was a fun game.
Is this the best team you have ever played with in your career?
Yeah. So many great players who do so much, any given night any player (on this team) can do what ‘Melo did.
You started off with a three and Kobe followed with one shortly thereafter. Could you tell you guys were going to keep on that roll all night?
We got open shots and we were able to knock them down. Once we get open looks, these guys, we're not used to getting open looks so when we do get ‘em, it's like, ‘Wow.' Our point guards, Russ, LeBron James, James Harden, they were all passing the ball, we were getting wide open shots, and when you make a few, your confidence starts to build, and we go from there.
James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Thoughts on the game:
Amazing experience just to be a part of that game … obviously the highest scoring in the Olympics … we beat a team by 83 points and that's unheard of. It was an honor to be a part of that.
Was it hard to believe what was happening?
When we're making shots like that -- it's already tough to beat us but when we're making shots like that, it's unbelievable. There is no one in the world that stay close to us (when USA shoots like that).
Did it get to the point where every time you shot the ball, you thought it was going in?
Yes. Not just me but everybody. Obviously Melo had so many wide open 3's. The ball was moving. The point guards … everybody did a great job of making guys get their open shots and extra passes. It was just a great win for us.
How about the passing of this team?
We have so many guys who can create shots for one another … starting with our point guards and LeBron, Carmelo, KD.
How are you feeling about breaking the record tonight?
It'll go down in history. It only matters if we achieve our goals. We're trying to get better as a team going forward. That's three games down and a few more to go. Our mission is to get the gold and we're trying to peak at the right time.
Were you playing against a team tonight that wasn't throwing that much defense at you?
Well they were trying to get back in transition and they were so worried about getting into the paint, and our 4-men are all like any others in international play today -- they play the wing in the NBA, so they can step out there and shoot when you're talking about (guys like) Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.
Have you seen an effort like what Carmelo did tonight in a while?
I've seen Carmelo shoot like that. I've played with Carmelo since high school, so I've seen him have some pretty big nights and I've seen him in the league where he's had some pretty big nights, so, we've all seen it.
Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
On the USA's record-setting night:
From the get-go, that first group was exciting to watch. It's fun to be a part of this team. That second group, there was no lack aggression. You saw Carmelo come out, hit every shot. We seemingly hit every three throughout the entire game. I think 29 was the final count. To be a part of that first quarter and really the entire game, breaking the Olympic record was a special night. Hopefully it'll be a good omen for us as far as getting through these next couple pool games and throughout the rest of the Olympics.
On the performance of Carmelo Anthony:
It was unbelievable. I was at a loss for words watching. Every time he shot the ball, I just went up, stood up, held the three points in the air. I knew it was in. When a guy gets into a rhythm like that, gets into a zone, it seems like anything he throws up goes in. That seems to be the case tonight for him.
Are you sending a message by winning by such a large margin?
No, I just think we came out and played well. We played relatively good defense. As far as an offensive standpoint, anything they threw at us, we just continued to have a better offense than they did defense. There's not much more I can really say about that. They played as hard as they could, but sometimes better offense beats better defense.
Are you watching what's going on in the other bracket or with the other teams?
I think we're really focusing on ourselves and each game. But yeah, we're paying attention. Every chance we get we're watching the other games in the other pool. We just want to continue to stay focused on our dream, which is our 12 being up on top of that podium with gold, but we know that it's going to be game-by-game. This could be a tough route.
On tonight's game:
Just seeing Carmelo (Anthony) go off in really the first half and second half. 10-for-12 from three was really unbelievable to watch, but we hit 29 3-point shots. We had a good rhythm tonight. As I mentioned, I hope it's a good omen for the Olympics.
It seems like the last couple of games have been a little slower.
You know what it was, Coach K talked to me and (Deron Williams) and told us to really push the ball. He told us to not call any sets, you know what I mean? So you all noticed, even at the free throw line, we push it. We push it. And that's why our team is so dangerous in this tournament, if we don't call any sets and we just play off of one another, the game is a lot faster and a lot (more fun).
It really seemed to be infectious with everyone knocking down those threes tonight.
Paul: Yeah, look at our team, everybody can shoot that ball. Everybody can step out to the three (and hit the shot). Even AD (Anthony Davis) made one out in Vegas.
How much fun was it?
It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun because like we said, it wasn't like just one guy had it, just holding it, dribbling the clock out. We almost had 40 assists. (*Team USA recorded 41 assists tonight).
What did you think of that one little hot stretch that Carmelo had?
It was crazy. It was crazy. And for a guy like me who thrives on finding guys when they get like that, me and D-Will were just out there having fun because we have the capability of making everyone think that we're out there about to try and go score, and it was great to see two people on me knowing that Carmelo was open.
You set some records tonight including most points for a Team USA team. How does that feel?
It's good. It's a good feeling. We always try to make our mark, somehow, some way, and this is all well and good, but the mark that we want to leave is to leave with another gold medal.
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