LONDON — The last group in England with this many records was The Beatles.
The US 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 US 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 five 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 US 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 US 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 US national team history, eclipsing the 79-point spread when Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Co. beat Cuba, 136-57, in their first game.
The US 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 US, which will play Lithuania 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).
‘‘We were looking forward to this game, playing against the US,’’ 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.’’
Anthony, who made five 3-pointers in the first half, put on a shooting clinic in the third quarter. With the US 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.
‘‘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.