Basketball: US 'Dream Team' taken to the wire by Lithuania
United States 99 Lithuania 94
Saturday 04 August 2012
Two days after their easiest game in living memory, the United States were taken to the wire by a spirited Lithuania team.
The Americans pulled away in the final two minutes to stay unbeaten at the London Olympics, but only after being given a huge scare by opponents that looked to be on a mission.
The United States came into the game on the back of their record-breaking 156-73 rout of Nigeria on Thursday night, but were in for a very different afternoon.
Lithuania opened the scoring through Linas Kleiza but soon found themselves 12-4 down after Kobe Bryant hit three straight free throws and Kevin Durant nailed a three-pointer.
Renaldas Seibutis brought it back to 12-9 before Carmelo Anthony, fresh from setting an American Olympic record by scoring 37 points in just 14 and a half minutes against Nigeria, came off the bench and picked up where he left off with a long two.
Durant added another three to make it 18-11 but again Lithuania responded, and Darius Songaila's jump-shot made it 20-18.
Anthony hit a three just before the buzzer to give the Americans a 33-25 bulge at the end of the first quarter.
Lithuania were still fighting and Simas Jasaitis' lay-up from a LeBron James turnover made it 55-50 late in the first half.
Lithuania were down by four at the break, but stunned the Americans as Jonas Valanciunas closed the gap before Sarunas Jasikevicius had them on top, 56-55, with a three-pointer.
The Americans heard the wake-up call, and reeled off seven rapid points.
That was not enough to shake off Lithuania though.
A three-pointer from Jasikevicius made it 63-61 early in the third quarter and the gap was back to two, 67-65, on a Seibutis lay-up with four minutes left in the period.
Seibutis then snatched the ball from Anthony and teed up Paulius Jankunas for a slam to level it at 67-67.
The United States began to get a little separation from Russell Westbrook's three-point play and two free throws from Kevin Love, but Lithuania hit right back with Martynas Pocius' reverse lay-up making it 74-72 late in the third.
The Americans reeled off quick six points and when Carmelo Anthony capitalised on another turnover the score was 80-72 early in the fourth.
Now it was Lithuania's turn, with Pocius scoring five in a mini spurt before Kleiza's three put them up 82-80.
Durant's two-handed slam levelled the game and as the teams traded baskets, the Americans gained the edge with a three from Chris Paul and a breakaway lay-up from Deron Williams to make it 87-84.
Songaila hit back for Lithuania before the United States began to take control in the final three minutes.
James nailed a three and then slammed it home moments later from a turnover to make it 92-86.
Songaila scored again but Williams' three and James' lay-up gave the Americans a 97-88 lead with 2:08 to go.
Kleiza's lay-up made it 99-92 with 28 seconds left but time ran out on Lithuania's plucky challenge.
Anthony and James led the Americans with 20 points each while Durant had 16 and Williams 12.
Kleiza had 25 points for Lithuania.
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