A week after hitting town, the Dream Team finally arrived at the 1996 Olympics.
After three underwhelming performances that belied a 28-point average margin, the NBA stars showed up emphatically Friday night, setting a record for points by the United States in an Olympic game. China was the victim, 133-70.
The Americans surpassed the 127 points scored twice in 1992 by the original Dream Team. They matched the Olympic record set by Brazil against Egypt in 1988.
The crowd, announced as an Olympic-record 34,417, gave the Dream Team its biggest round of applause when Charles Barkley spelled out the letters Y-M-C-A while the Village People song played during a timeout early in the second half. Chants of "We Want Barkley" and "U-S-A" followed, but the crowd never got its wish. Barkley became the first U.S. player to sit out a game.
China's uptempo style played into the hands of the Americans, and Reggie Miller set a U.S. record with five three-pointers. Scottie Pippen had four, finishing with 24 points, the most by a U.S. player in this tournament. Grant Hill scored 19. The Lakers' new center, Shaquille O'Neal, had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Former Magic teammate Anfernee Hardaway had 15 points and 10 assists.
The score was 65-38 at the half and reached 105-45 in the second, threatening the 1992 team's record 68-point win over Angola.
The Americans' next Group A opponent, Croatia (3-1), beat Argentina 90-75 to clinch a quarterfinal berth. Yugoslavia (4-0) used all 10 players against Brazil and saw nine score, winning 101-82 to clinch Group B.