BREAKING: Lithuania is still a really good team.
Yes, still. Lithuania is not a team that should be overlooked, and they came out and proved that today.
The first quarter looked like the US would eventually run away in a competitive fashion; they were making shots at an efficient rate and forcing turnovers. However, Lithuania held in there by making shot after shot. Of course, I thought that the Lithuanians would eventually regress to the mean, and start missing shots. Of course, I also thought the US team would actually decide to play pick-and-roll defense at some point.
Linas Kleiza led the green, yellow, and red, scoring 25 shots on 10/20 shooting. (which, amazing, was below the team’s total FG% of 58.5) Sarunas Jasikevicius and Marty Pocius were running an efficient offense for much of the game, despite turning the ball over nine times.
The USA, meanwhile, started missing all of the open shots that they made against Nigeria, which can partially be credited to the Lithuanian defense. The Lithuanians kept stacked the paint, daring the Americans to shoot jumpers the entire game.
The bricked jumpers resulted in an Olympic low 14 assists for the US, including zero from LeBron and Russell Westbrook. (CP3 had over half of the team’s assists with eight) Lithuania also defended the USA’s transition game well, giving up offensive rebounds to deny the Americans from getting out in the floor and running.
In the final minutes though, it was all LeBron and CP3. Lithuania did hold a lead in the fourth quarter, but was quelled by a quick 10 point flurry from the NBA superstars. LeBron, who playing point for much of his time on the floor, finally got his scoring going, finishing with 20 points on 9/14 shooting. His shooting stats were essentially the best for the Americans, who finished the game with a pedestrian 44% shooting from the floor.
All other stats can be seen in the boxscore here. Team USA (4-0) will play their final game of group play against the 2004 gold medalists, Argentina. The game will be at 5:15pm EDT on Monday. Lithuania (1-3) will take on Tunisia, a game they must win if they want to head on to the next rounds.