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USA vs. Australia 2016 final score: Americans hang on for 98-88 victory in first Olympic scare

Team USA had its first scare in Rio against Australia.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The United States men's basketball team gave fans another scare before finishing off a 98-88 win over Australia on Wednesday. It was the second straight time in these Olympics that the U.S. has stumbled out of the gate, but just like the eventual blowout of Venezuela, the team figured it out against a less talented opponent in the end.

Australia provided more trouble than Coach K's team has seen yet during this Olympic run. The Americans had no problems dominating their pre-Olympics exhibition schedule, then opened in Rio with lopsided victories over China and Venezuela. While the latter game provided only some early issues, the Australians were pests throughout a surprisingly close match.

Carmelo Anthony was big at the start and the finish. He led all scorers with 31 points, including a bunch of huge three-pointers, and set a big Olympic record in the process (more on that below). He opened the game with a flurry of triples, then hit several big shots in the fourth quarter when the game was still close. Anthony has had so many big games for Team USA over the years, and you can definitely add this one to the list.

Only two other Americans, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, scored in double digits, and they combined for just 33 points on 31 shots. However, Irving was much better in the second half, and hit several big shots -- including a huge three after Australia cut the lead to four -- in the final minutes.

Other than Anthony and Irving, the Americans leaned heavily on defense and three-pointers to get the win. The team shot just 39 percent overall, but settled in on the defensive end and hit enough from beyond the arc to hang on. The U.S. actually shot better on threes (17-of-39, 44 percent) than twos (17-of-48, 35 percent) in the game. Another big difference was turnovers, as Australia had 16 to USA's nine.

Patty Mills led Australia with 30 points on 11-of-22 shooting, while Andrew Bogut had another good effort with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Matthew Dellavedova had a double-double with 11 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in 32 minutes.

You have to imagine a game like this caught the Americans' attention a bit. They're used to crushing opponents and just had a tough time against a team led by NBA reserves. While they still won in the end, the U.S. should rightly expect to blow out just about everyone it plays.

The U.S. is now 3-0 in preliminary action at the 2016 Olympics. The team will play Serbia on Friday and France on Sunday to conclude the group stage.

Two more things we learned from the game:

Carmelo Anthony is USA's top Olympic scorer ever

Carmelo Anthony was one of the big highlights for the Americans. He became Team USA's all-time leading Olympic scorer in the game, which saw him finish with 31 points on 11-of-21 shooting, including 9-of-15 from three, in 35 minutes. One of the big benefits of the international game for Anthony is the closer three-point line, as he can really nail them with an extra step in, and he put that on full display in this game. He showed his confidence from beyond the arc, as the vast majority of his shot attempts came from three.

The New York Knicks star passed both David Robinson and LeBron James for the top spot on the all-time Olympic scoring list after starting the game in third place with 262 points. While championship success has eluded Anthony in the NBA, he continues racking up accolades that make him one of the greatest international players of all time. He now has 293 points over his four Olympic appearances since 2004.

Australia could win a medal this year

Australia has never won an Olympic medal in men's basketball. The team's first three games in Rio signal that this could be the country's best shot yet. While the Boomers couldn't finish off a stunning upset of Team USA on Wednesday night, they've established in the group stage that they can play with anyone.

In the Australians' first game in Rio, they crushed a French team featuring Tony Parker, Rudy Gobert and Nicolas Batum by 21 points. France has since followed up that game with back-to-back wins. Australia then beat Serbia by 15 points despite trailing entering the fourth quarter. Dellavedova had 23 points and 13 assists, and you have to imagine Milwaukee Bucks execs are loving this after giving him $38 million earlier in the summer.

The future is bright for Australia with Ben Simmons, Dante Exum and others on the way, but it seems like the present is pretty good, too.

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