This is the real world now – Krzyzewski.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – The blowouts are over. The Olympics are underway.
After nothing but pushovers this summer, the U.S. men’s basketball team faced someone who pushed back.
“This is the real world now and that’s good for us,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Finally tested, Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving had the answers.
Anthony scored 31 points on the night he became the U.S. men’s Olympic career scoring leader, combining with Irving for all the Americans’ baskets in the fourth quarter of a 98-88 victory over Australia on Wednesday night.
Irving – born in Australia – added 19 points, including a 3-pointer with 1:35 left after Australia had closed within four.
A team that won its first two games by a combined 101 points could never get a comfortable lead – and for a while couldn’t get one at all. The Australians, with big bodies inside, quality point guards to counter the American pressure and a wealth of NBA championship experience, stood toe to toe with the team that had blown them out of the last two Olympics in the quarterfinals.
But Anthony, the first U.S. male to play in four Olympics, steadied the Americans in the first competitive game most of this new team had ever experienced.
“We kind of expected a game like this, a physical game, a grind-out game from playing against Australia over the past couple years,” Anthony said, “and going into tonight we knew it was going to come down to the end of the game where we were really going to have to buckle down and focus in and make plays down the stretch.”
Kevin Durant capped off the scoring with two free throws, making him the only other player than Irving or Anthony to score in the period.
The Americans, who had barely broken a sweat in Brazil, trailed early in the fourth quarter before Anthony hit a flurry of 3-pointers to put the Americans on top.
Patty Mills, the tournament scoring leader, had 30 points for Australia.
After five easy exhibitions preceding routs of China and Venezuela to open the tournament, the Americans trailed 72-70 with about 9 minutes left. Anthony scored to tie it, hit a 3-pointer to give the Americans the lead for good, and then hit a couple more 3s that pushed it to 83-76.