US tested but outlast Lithuania
LeBron James seized command with the game up for grabs and the United States defeated Lithuania 99-94 yesterday to clinch a berth in the medal play-offs at the Olympic men’s basketball tournament.
But the US NBA Dream Team received its toughest test yet at the London Games only two nights after unleashing an Olympic record 156-point performance in a shooting practice of a victory over Nigeria.
James and Carmelo Anthony each scored 20 points while Kevin Durant added 16 as the Americans remained unbeaten despite a 25-point effort from Lithuanian captain Linas Kleiza of the NBA Toronto Raptors.
Darius Songaila sank a jumper to pull Lithuania within 87-86 before James took charge with nine points in a game-winning 12-2 US run, hitting a 3-pointer to start the spurt and a layup to end it in the dying seconds.
The US multi-millionaires rose to 58-1 record under coach Mike Krzyzewski since revamping the national team program after settling for bronze at the 2004 Olympics.
The Lithuanians have a history with the US squad that includes a 1998 world championships victory, a 94-90 triumph at the 2004 Olympics and an 85-83 loss at the 2000 Olympics when a half-court buzzer shot fell short.