Prior to Team USA’s incredibly uneven matchup against Tunisia, Carmelo Anthony refused to take his opponent lightly and expressed those thoughts in several comments leading up to the contest. Anthony’s actions mirrored his words as the Knicks All-Star tallied 16 points to help Team USA crush Tunisia 110-63 on Tuesday.
Surprising just about every fan watching at the Olympic Park Basketball Arena in London and viewing from around the world, Tunisia took an early 11-10 lead at the 4:55 mark of the first quarter. Team USA was a dreadful 0-of-7 from the 3-point line while Tunisia drilled three long bombs.
Head coach Mike Krzyweski turned to his bench to quickly reverse the negative flow in Team USA’s second contest of the Pool A schedule. Anthony, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, and Deron Williams stifled Tunisia for the final minutes of the first period en route to a 9-0 run and 21-15 lead heading into the second quarter.
“We’re 12 deep. You put anybody out there on the court with us, we know how to play with each other, we have each other’s back. The biggest point is that we have fun with one another,” Anthony explained on usabasketball.com.
Anthony and the bench crew started the second half and Team USA outscored Tunisia 39-14 in the third quarter to capture a commanding lead. In the blink of any eye, USA’s quick striking fast break game led to a 20-point advantage with 8:20 remaining in the third period.
“You never know what Coach K is going to do,” Anthony stated. “You never know what lineup he’s going to throw out there. We didn’t even know who was going to start the game until we were about to run out there on the basketball court, so you never know with him. You have to be prepared when your number is called. He held us responsible. He held us accountable for what we were doing out there. The game was kind of slow. We figured it out but he left it up to us to figure this thing out.”
Playing at the power forward spot, Anthony worked in a variety of ways to damage Tunisia. He scored in transition and deep on the perimeter in a sparkling outing for Team USA. In only 12 minutes, Anthony sunk 4-of-4 shots from the floor and 2-of-2 behind the arc.
Tyson Chandler also finished with a perfect box score in terms of field goals (3-3) in 15 minutes to go along with six boards.
Team USA found its groove and returned to dominance. Just like his 27-point performance against Spain in exhibition play, Anthony provided the necessary jolt of offensive juice to jumpstart the red, white, and blue. Anthony, Chandler, and Team USA will have the day off from action on Wednesday. Thursday’s slate of games are intriguing with France facing Lithuania, Brazil squaring off against Russia, and the night cap at 5:15 PM EDT featuring Team USA and Nigeria in the final game.