LONDON — The last group in England with this many records was The Beatles.

The U.S. men's Olympic basketball team beat Nigeria 156-73 Thursday night, an epic blowout that answered the Americans' detractors and sent a clear message to let them be.

After two opening routs that provoked criticism of their slow starts and outside shooting, the Americans rewrote the record books.

They led by 26 in the first quarter, had an Olympic-record 78 points in the first half and Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points, including 10 of 12 3-pointers, to break the U.S. single-game scoring record in less than three quarters.

"Our guys just couldn't miss," said coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Incredibly, they eclipsed the 100-point mark with 5 minutes still left in the third.

"When we get hot, it's a big problem," Kobe Bryant said. "So you have all these guys on one team and then all get hot on the same night, it's tough."

They broke the Olympic record for most points in a game with 4:37 still to play, and set U.S. records for 3-pointers (26), field goals (59) and field-goal percentage (71).

When Andre Iguodala hit a 3-pointer with 4:37 left, the Americans had surpassed the previous Olympic record of 138 points set by Brazil against Egypt in 1988. When the record was announced to the mesmerized crowd, all the players seated on the U.S. bench got up and walked single file past Krzyzewski, slapping hands with him and his staff.

Gentlemen, take a bow.

"It was just one of them nights where as a unit we had it going," Anthony said. "It could have been anybody out on the court playing against us."

The Americans even one-upped the 1992 Dream Team. The 83-point margin of victory was the largest in U.S. national team history, eclipsing the 79-point spread when Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Co. beat Cuba 136-57 in their first game.

The U.S. seemed intent on breaking Nigeria's spirit, and when that was accomplished with ease, the Americans made a profound statement with their marksmanship.

Nigeria was the first to get the message.

"When they shoot like this, I don't know if there is any team that can beat them," said Ike Diogu, one of the Nigerians who promised not to be intimidated by the Americans.

Bryant scored 16 points – 14 in the first quarter – for the Americans, who scored 49 points in the first, left the floor leading 78-45 at half and then doubled their total in the second half.

Russell Westbrook finished with 21 points, Kevin Love 15 and Kevin Durant 14 for the U.S., which will play Lithuania on Saturday. The Americans have won their first three games with ease, but now things are expected to get a lot tougher as they approach next week's medal round.

Diogu scored 27 to lead Nigeria (1-2), which was as good as done after Durant hit a 3-pointer 11 seconds in, snapping an 0-for-14 slump by the U.S. in the first quarter in the tourney.

Bryant was mostly a non-factor in wins over France and Tunisia, playing just 21 minutes and getting into early foul trouble. But from the outset against Nigeria, the two-time Olympian nicknamed the Black Mamba was as deadly as ever. He set the tone by scoring seven quick points as the U.S. (3-0) raced to a 13-0 lead, a haymaker that stunned the Nigerians.

Durant buried three 3-pointers, Bryant and Anthony added two from long-range and when Love, the NBA's 3-point champion, came off the bench and knocked down his first 3, the U.S. team's shooting gallery of stars had opened a 41-15 lead and made the p.a. announcer's pregame comment that "anything is possible" seem prophetic.

He was talking about a possible upset. The only surprise in the first quarter was when the U.S. missed.

"We were looking forward to this game, playing against the U.S.," Diogu said. "You know we wanted to use this to show the world what type of team we are. We just came out flat, turned the ball over too many times and they made us pay every time."

After starting so sluggishly in blowout wins over France and Tunisia, the U.S. came flying out of the gates, led by Bryant.

The Americans seemed intent on breaking Nigeria's spirit, and when that was accomplished with ease, they made a profound statement with their marksmanship.

Nigeria was the first to get the message.

"When they shoot like this, I don't know if there is any team that can beat them," Diogu said.

Anthony, who made five 3-pointers in the first half, put on a shooting clinic in the third quarter. With the U.S. bench standing in anticipation every time he touched the ball on the perimeter, Anthony made all five of his attempts, punctuating one that made it 97-54 by throwing back his head, laughing and shrugging his shoulders.

He was in a zone unlike any seen before.

"It's a great accomplishment to get that record," said Anthony, who broke Stephon Marbury's scoring mark of 31 against Spain in 2004. "We did it in a very highly classy way. We went out there and we played basketball. We made shots. We make shots like that and play the way we played tonight, that record could have came on any team."

Anthony wasn't the lone sniper as the Americans made 29 of 46 3-pointers (63 percent), numbers that could stand for several more Olympiads.

Although an Olympic rookie, Nigeria, with 10 players who played college ball in the U.S., also has its share of pro experience.

Diogu, who was born in Buffalo, N.Y., after his parents emigrated from Africa, has played for eight NBA teams and Al-Farouq, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2010 draft, was traded last year by the Los Angeles Clippers to New Orleans in the deal for U.S. guard Chris Paul.

But there isn't a team in the Olympics that can match the American's celebrated roster with a combined 43 All-Star appearances, seven NBA titles and four league MVPs.

Krzyzewski gave his players the day off on Wednesday, a chance to relax and enjoy the games. Anthony and James Harden went to see boxing. Durant watched beach volleyball.

They came back rested.

And on target.

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  • Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler

    USA's Kobe Bryant, left, and Tyson Chandler trap Nigeria's Derrick Obasohan during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Kobe Bryant

    USA's Kobe Bryant drives to the basket against Nigeria during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Kobe Bryant

    USA's Kobe Bryant looks backwards as he lines up a reverse dunk against Nigeria during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • LeBron James

    USA's Lebron James slams a dunk against Nigeria during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Kobe Bryant, Derrick Obasohan

    USA's Kobe Bryant prepares to drive on Nigeria's Derrick Obasohan during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Kobe Bryant, LeBron James

    USA's Kobe Bryant (10) keeps pressure on Nigeria's Alade Aminu, left, during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London. At right is USA's LeBron James.

  • LeBron James, Derrick Obasohan

    Nigeria's Derrick Obasohan watches as USA's Lebron James leans back and shoots during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Kevin Durant

    USA's Kevin Durant slams a dunk against Nigeria during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Russell Westbrook

    USA's Russell Westbrook sets to dunk against Nigeria8 during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • LeBron James

    USA's Lebron James shoots during warm ups prior to facing Nigeria in a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Deron Williams, Anthony Davis,Kevin Love

    USA's Deron Williams, Anthony Davis and Kevin Love share a laugh during a preliminary men's basketball game against Nigeria at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Kobe Bryant, Derrick Obasohan

    USA's Kobe Bryant, left, defends Nigeria's Derrick Obasohan, right, during a preliminary men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • James Harden

    USA's James Harden slams a dunk against Nigeria during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Chris Paul, Tony Skinn, Ike Diogu

    USA's Chris Paul, center, drives to the basket past Nigeria's Tony Skinn, right, and Ike Diogu during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Russell Westbrook

    USA's Russell Westbrook threads to the basket against Nigeria during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook

    USA's Carmelo Anthony, left, and Russell Westbrook wait to enter a preliminary men's basketball game against Nigeria at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Carmelo Anthony

    USA's Carmelo Anthony laughs after hitting a 3-pointer against Nigeria during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Carmelo Anthony

    USA's Carmelo Anthony laughs after hitting a 3-pointer against Nigeria during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Russell Westbrook

    Russell Westbrook of United States in action against Nigeria during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.

  • Tyson Chandler

    Tyson Chandler of United States shoots whilst under pressure from Al-Farouq Aminu of Nigeria during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.

  • Carmelo Anthony

    Carmelo Anthony of United States dribbles during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.

  • Russell Westbrook

    Russell Westbrook of United States shoots against Nigeria in the first half during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.

  • Kobe Bryant

    Kobe Bryant of United States stands on the court while playing Nigeria during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.

  • Lebron James

    Lebron James of United States shoots against Derrick Obasohan of Nigeria during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.

  • Lebron James

    Lebron James of United States shoots against Tony Skinn #4 and Al-Farouq Aminu of Nigeria in the first half during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.

  • Lebron James

    Lebron James of United States shoots against Tony Skinn #4 and Al-Farouq Aminu of Nigeria in the first half during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.

  • Team USA

    US players react during the men's preliminary round basketball match USA vs Nigeria of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 2, 2012 at the basketball arena in London.

  • Deron Williams

    Deron Williams of United States shoots against Tony Skinn #4 of Nigeria during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.

  • LeBron James

    US forward LeBron James US guard Kobe Bryant and US forward Kevin Durant (L) react during the men's preliminary round basketball match USA vs Nigeria of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 2, 2012 at the basketball arena in London.

  • Team USA

    US players react during the men's preliminary round basketball match USA vs Nigeria of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 2, 2012 at the basketball arena in London.

  • Kevin Love

    USA's Kevin Love raises his arms as he celebrates after a 3-pointer by teammate Carmelo Anthony during a men's basketball game against Nigeria at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Obasohan

    USA's Carmelo Anthony (15) drives to the basket past Nigeria's Derrick Obasohan (13) during a preliminary men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Team USA

    The final tenth of a second ticks off the clock in a 156-73 by the United States over Nigeria, for a record Olympic high scoring game, during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • USA's Andre Iguodala passes the ball during the final ten second of a game against Nigeria during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London. USA won 156-73, setting an many Olympic records. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Obasohan

    USA's Carmelo Anthony drives to the basket past Nigeria's Derrick Obasohan during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, in London. Anthony had 37 points in USA's 156-73 win.

  • Anthony Davis

    USA's Anthony Davis (14) scores against Nigeria during a preliminary men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Anthony Davis

    USA's Anthony Davis (14) scores against Nigeria during a preliminary men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Russell Westbrook

    USA's Russell Westbrook (7) scores against Nigeria during a preliminary men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Anthony Davis

    USA's Anthony Davis (14) scores against Nigeria during a preliminary men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Russell Westbrook

    USA's Russell Westbrook (7) scores as Nigeria's Richard Oruche (11) and Koko Archibong look on during a preliminary men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Carmelo Anthony

    USA's Carmelo Anthony (15) shoot a jumper over Nigeria's Derrick Obasohan (13) during a preliminary men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Russell Westbrook

    Russell Westbrook (7) of the United States shoots against Richard Oruche (11) of Nigeria during their men's basketball preliminary round match at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Kobe Bryant

    USA's Kobe Bryant (10) scores against Nigeria during a preliminary men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Lebron James, Kobe Bryant

    USA's Lebron James, left, and Kobe Bryant, right, share a laugh on the bench during a preliminary men's basketball game against Nigeria at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • James Harden

    United States' guard James Harden, right, vies for the ball with Nigerian guard Richard Oruche during their men's preliminary round basketball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Lebron James

    United States' Lebron James (6) puts up a shot over Nigeria's Derrick Obasohan during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Mike Kryzewski

    United States basketball coach Mike Mike Kryzewski cheers on his team during a men's basketball game against Nigeria at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul

    USA's Kobe Bryant, left, jokes with teammates Russell Westbrook, center and Chris Paul, right, following a preliminary men's basketball game against Nigeria at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, in London.

  • Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Andre Iguodala

    USA's Lebron James, left, and Kobe Bryant, center, share a laugh on the bench during a preliminary men's basketball game against Nigeria at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.USA's Andre Iguodala is at right.

  • LeBron James

    USA's Lebron James congratulates teammates as Nigerian players walk off the court following a 156-73 win in a men's basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.

  • James Harden, Kevin Durant

    United States players James Harden (12) and Kevin Durant celebrate a basket during a men's basketball game against Nigeria at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.