Team USA beat Lithuania in what turned out to be a hotly contested 99-94 game.
What do you take out of this game for Team USA?
It wasn’t until Lithuania took the lead in the fourth quarter that Team USA took the game seriously and stepped it up.
Led by a big scoring effort from LeBron James in the waning minutes of the game, the Americans rode the hot-scoring Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant to the tough win.
No team wants to come that close to losing, but this could be the best-case scenario in terms of team development moving into the elimination tournament after one more game against Argentina in group play.
Looks like D'Antoni-coached team. Sizzling offense, poor defensive effort as Team USA leading 55-50 with 54 seconds left in half.— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) August 4, 2012
Tommy Beer, NBA analyst for Hoopsworld.com, shared the absolutely ridiculous stats for Carmelo Anthony over the nine quarters leading up to halftime:
Wow. Over the last 9 quarters for Team USA, Melo has scored 63 points in 32 minutes. 22-of-26 from the floor. 14-of-18 on 3's.— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) August 4, 2012
With Team USA struggling to stretch a lead against the Lithuanians, SportsNation took a jab at the current “Dream Team”:
If Team USA loses to Lithuania, this would be the Dream Team's reaction twitter.com/SportsNation/s…— SportsNation (@SportsNation) August 4, 2012
As Lithuania gave Team USA a contest it didn’t know it wanted, ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi discussed the biggest reason this matchup was even close:
I know one team that misses Dwight Howard right now.. No inside presence hurting Team USA on both ends..— Kevin Negandhi (@KNegandhiESPN) August 4, 2012
Matt Moore, NBA blogger for CBSSports.com, raised a point that is very true:
That was the best game played by a non-US team in Olympic play. No kidding. They literally gave their best.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) August 4, 2012
While the Americans never want to be scared like they were against the Lithuanians, the tough play and playoff-like atmosphere is what the team needs to realize this is a real competition. There can be no mailing it in.
Despite the loss, the Lithuanians came out with no fear of what the Americans had offensively or defensively. Despite the red-hot play of Carmelo Anthony, Team Lithuania brought its best defense against the far superior Team USA.
There is no denying the loss is a big blow to the Lithuanians, but they proved they are one of the best second-tier teams in this competition. With a big game against Tunisia next, there is a good chance Lithuania hits the bracket red-hot.
Carmelo Anthony, Team USA
While everyone wants to look at the fourth quarter from LeBron James, it was Carmelo Anthony that has continued being as red-hot as anyone in the world.
Without his 20 points in 24 minutes, Team USA would have lost this game.
We also can’t forget that Carmelo was the only one on the team that was hitting his free throws with any sort of consistency. While his defense has never been great, that is no secret; Carmelo is there to score, and that’s what he did.
For Team USA, barely holding on to a win it should have had easily will be the slap in the face that the over-confident squad needed. With a lot of basketball left in this tournament, Team USA better use this close call as motivation moving forward.
As for Lithuania, Tunisia is next on the schedule. While this should be an easy win for Lithuania to get back on the right track, Tunisia played France hard and will not back down.