Dwyane Wade scored 19 points to lead the US team of National Basketball Association stars past Angola 97-76 on Tuesday but the African champions found a way to put the "feat" in defeat.
With a flamboyant fast-paced attack that featured crisp passing and plenty of acrobatic slam dunks, the NBA wizards overwhelmed the African champions as US teams had by 68, 36 and 33 points in three prior Olympic meetings, the AFP reported.
"Our goal was to work hard and keep our pressure," US coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "The main thing was to keep some consistency. Overall I was very pleased."
Angola was thrilled to keep the margin so small in the Group B preliminary round game after the prior routs.
"We achieved our goal. We tried to minimize the gap," Angola coach Alberto Carvalho said. "Playing the US was inspirational for us. They are the best."
The Angolans earned the respect of their NBA rivals for not quitting even as the US stars were making their crowd-pleasing moves.
"They played very hard start to finish. You have to respect a team that is going all out to the end," Wade said. "Our main thing is to get better. That's what we want to do every day."
Dwight Howard added 14 points while LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony scored 12 points each for the Americans, who were a woeful 5-for- 21 in three-point shooting to sound the only cautionary note in their quest for a gold medal.
"We haven't shot the ball well from the outside as a team since we've been here but I'm sure we will," Krzyzewski said.
"If we start hitting threes, we will be a lot better. We haven't really gotten hot yet and it hasn't affected the intensity of our defense. That says a lot about our guys."
The US team is trying to reclaim the global throne after settling for bronze at the 2006 World Championship and 2004 Athens Olympics.
Up next on Thursday will be Greece, the last team to defeat the US in global play. The Greeks ousted the Americans in the 2006 world championship semi-finals.
Angola was trying to strike a blow for African pride.
"Our opponent is the strongest team in the world. We tried our best," center Joaquim Gomes said. "I'm sure the whole continent was watching. When you play the US, everybody is going to be watching. You have to do something.
"Losing by 20 to the USA is not bad at all. They were great."
Wade said players realize their inspirational role to global rivals.
"We understand the NBA is loved in the whole world," Wade said. "We are being watched on how we look and what we do. We take that with a lot of pride."
The Americans made trademark spectacular plays, with LeBron James swatting a away a shot by Angola's Felizardo Ambrosio with impressive force and pulling the ball up, down and up again on a left-handed slam dunk in the second period.
"It was incredible watching the play where LeBron James dunked the ball with his left hand after doing some air movements," Gomes said.
Wade was the steadiest playmaker on a balanced US lineup that rolled ahead 55-37 at half-time and cruised home from there.
"I'm playing with a lot of confidence," Wade said. "I'm going to play very aggressively defensively, be a leader and offensively attack and make plays for others."
Carlos Moraies scored 24 points to lead Angola, which plays China on Thursday in a matchup of winless teams.
"We staged a wonderful show," Moraies said. "I wanted to win the game but it was impossible."