United States vs. Lithuania: American Struggles Mean Little Going Forward

Jeremy ReidCorrespondent IAugust 4, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04:  Lebron James #6 of United States reacts after making a three point shot against Lithuania during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on August 4, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Team USA just threw up a dud right after that pearl versus Nigeria.

Team USA shot just 44 percent from the field, 30 percent from three-point range and 61 percent from the charity stripe. They allowed their opponent, Lithuania, to shoot 58 percent from the field, 44 percent from beyond the arc and watched them shoot a much better 73 percent from the free throw line.

Team USA was out-shot.  Maybe they even got outplayed. Team USA also managed a measly 13 assists to Lithuania's 21.  It looks like Lithuania played better team ball, feeding into the notion that the United States assembly of players who can score and create their own shots better than any other nation can be beat by a team that plays, well, more as a team.

Team USA won, though, by five and only trailed for 1:53 all game.  Sure, they won by only five and they did trail a minute or so of that in the fourth quarter. 

They didn't, however, get out-willed.

Lithuania did, to their credit, play an unbelievable game as illustrated by their shooting percentages. 

The truth of the matter is Team USA Men's Basketball just set all kinds of records in beating Nigeria and then came out and beat Lithuania by a mere five points.  It's hard to fathom that this team can destroy a team, albeit in their first-ever year competing in Olympic basketball, and then find themselves trailing in the fourth quarter to a team that is not necessarily on the Gold Medal radar.

A couple stats that jump out at you, and if you watched the game you certainly took notice, are the 17 steals the Americans managed and the 13 offensive rebounds they grabbed.  Every player on Team USA that played at least four minutes not named Kevin Love had at least one steal. 

The sheer athleticism and ability to make that many steals will bail this team out of a poor shooting night.  It should be comforting that these guys can come up with that many balls when they had to on a night their opponent is shooting the lights out. 

The will to go on the offensive while on the defensive end of the court and the determination to crash the offensive glass will remain on this team, even when Carmelo Anthony isn't drilling 10-12 three-pointers as he did against Nigeria.

It is worth noting that the two guys carrying the bill on this team, Anthony and Lebron James, each scored 20 points on over 50 percent shooting.

While some may say Team USA just got a reality check or that they came back down to Earth, it was almost as impressive to have such a large disparity in shooting and still be able to come up with enough plays to pull out the win.

Can team USA score 156 points every game?  No.  Can they get 17 steals each and every game?  Well, no.  But they did come into the Lithuania game averaging 10 steals per game, 10 of which came against France, who has the hottest point guard in the Olympics, Tony Parker.

What's more comforting is knowing Team USA does have the ability to do both.  Whether either will happen again we will just have to wait and see.  Argentina will round out the Group A play and it will be interesting to see if the American men's basketball team will shoot the lights out or will their way to win a dog-fight. Whichever it is, they'll be just fine.