Unbeaten Team USA survive Australia scare
CARMELO Anthony came to Team USA's rescue with a record-breaking effort on Wednesday as the defending Olympic basketball champions beat Australia 98-88 in a thrilling encounter to extend their overall winning streak to 20 games.
Trailing the Boomers 72-70 early in the fourth quarter, he tied the game from inside the paint. He then hit two big three-pointers to put the United States ahead for good as they remained top of Group A with a 3-0 record.
Anthony, a four-time Olympian and the Team USA leader, finished with a game-high 31 points to leapfrog David Robinson and LeBron James on the list of all-time leading scorers at the Games among American players.
Kyrie Irving, who was born in Melbourne and at one point considered playing for Australia, contributed 19 points to the US cause, including a clutch three-pointer and two free throws in the dying seconds to ease frayed nerves.
"I don't think we played our best game but we pulled it out," Anthony told reporters, deflecting any credit for the win.
"Tonight, we came together as a team and guys stepped up at different points."
With a line-up of NBA all-stars and most valuable players bidding for a third straight gold, the US might have expected little trouble from the 11th-ranked Australians, who have never set foot on the Olympic podium.
After blowout wins over China and Venezuela to open pool play, US coach Mike Krzyzewski said the Olympic tournament had now moved up a level for the Americans.
"For this group, that was the first real international game," said Krzyzewski, who will step down as US coach after the Rio Games.
"This was a very good night for us."