Australia vs. Lithuania FIBA World Cup: Game Grades for Boomers vs. Lithuania

Sean Hojnacki@@TheRealHojnackiFeatured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2014

Lithuania staged a furious comeback without much help from NBAer Donatas Motiejunas, but it wasn't enough to top Australia.
Lithuania staged a furious comeback without much help from NBAer Donatas Motiejunas, but it wasn't enough to top Australia.Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Australia clashed with Lithuania in Tuesday's Group D action at the 2014 FIBA World Cup, and after opening a sizable lead with proficient play in the first half, the Aussies held on down the stretch for a gritty 82-75 victory. 

Australia pushed the tempo and outran Lithuania while also forcing 22 turnovers and limiting the output from NBA players Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas. 

The game saw ragged periods of play with momentum careening back and forth. After a furious first quarter that finished 30-20 in favor of Australia, the teams mustered just 15 points through seven minutes of the second quarter.

Joe Ingles led Australia with 18 points—nine of those in the first half—and Renaldas Seibutis led all scorers with 21 in a losing effort. 

The Aussie defense forced 13 turnovers in just the first 20 minutes. All seemed lost for Lithuania with a 19-point halftime deficit to overcome, but the third quarter saw a sea change.

The Lithuanians cut 13 points off Australia's lead and even shaved the margin to a one-possession game, but Australia had too much pace and quality, and the Lithuanian defense could not come up with the necessary stops when it mattered most. 

Here are grades for all the key players from both sides in this international clash. 


Australia Grades:

Dante Exum: C

Joe Ingles: B

Aron Baynes: B

Matthew Dellavedova: B

Rest of Team: C


Lithuania Grades:

Jonas Valanciunas: D

Donatas Motiejunas: D

Renaldas Seibutis: A

Darjus Lavrinovic: B

Rest of Team: C


Australia Grades:

Dante Exum: C

Uncredited/Associated Press

Exum does not appear to be part of Australia's game plan at the World Cup in Spain. Whether it's an issue with his lack of experience or simply his lack of seniority, Exum has barely received playing time. 

He got four minutes on the court, producing a rebound, an assist and a turnover. He did not attempt a shot. Instead of a letter grade, Exum could easily have received an incomplete on this assessment. 


Joe Ingles: B

Ingles piled up points in the first quarter and did not stop there. He even drained the buzzer-beater to close the first half despite a defender's hand in his face. That put Ingles at 14 points for the first half alone.

He ended up with 18 points, four assists and three steals, but he faded in the second half.

Ingles percolated in the early going, and he had his swingman game working inside and out. He cut to the rim and caught the defense napping on several layups, but the majority of his buckets came on the perimeter. His instincts and motor helped pushed the pace early.

Ingles logged 35 minutes on the floor—four more minutes than any other player and five more than any teammateand he appeared gassed at times in the later stages.

However, his whale of a first half helped position the Aussies out in front. He's turning heads in Spain.


Aron Baynes: B

San Antonio Spurs backup big Baynes logged another solid performance at the World Cup with 14 points and six rebounds—three on the offensive glass.

He picked up four fouls and played just 22:30, but his 6'10" frame made the biggest difference before the foul trouble in helping contain Lithuania down low. 


Matthew Dellavedova: B

Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Dellavedova has seen increased action with Patty Mills nursing a shoulder injury, and he made up for some uneven play in Spain with a 13-point effort against Lithuania.

He splashed a pair of three-pointers and dished two assists. Dellavedova's pace helped open the game for the Boomers as they ran out to an early double-digit lead. 


Rest of Team: C

Brock Motum had a strong start to the game, ending with six points and a couple of offensive rebounds. He will see time with the Utah Jazz this season.

David Andersen subbed for the absent Andrew Bogut, and his presence in the middle on defense battling Lithuania's NBA bigs was just as important as his seven points and five boards.

And you can put a star next to his three-point play in the third quarter, which spurred Australia when Lithuania was assuming control of the game. 

Brad Newley added 10 points in his 19 minutes, including some late offense as the Australian offense scuttled, and Ryan Broekhoff drained a couple of his obligatory three-pointers. 


Lithuania Grades:

Jonas Valanciunas: D

Mindaugas Kulbis/Associated Press

In light of Exum's current lack of NBA experience, Toronto Raptors big man Valanciunas was probably the most talented basketball player on the court, but you never would have know that from watching him.

Receiving plenty of attention from Aussie bigs Baynes and Motum, Valanciunas never found his form in this one and got himself into second-half foul trouble as well. He never even seemed to get into the rhythm of the game:

In 18 minutes on the floor, the most talented player on the roster attempted only three shots. Baynes continually worked to deny Valanciunas entry passes, and the offense just gave up on him eventually.

Valanciunas ended his day with four points, six rebounds and five turnovers.


Donatas Motiejunas: D

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Houston Rockets forward Motiejunas put up strong numbers at the Las Vegas Summer League (16.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game), but he was not able to conjure such prowess Tuesday in Gran Canaria.

Australia's defense consistently denied him the ball in the first half, limiting him to one point-blank layup and a lengthy three-pointer that missed the mark. 

With a dearth of shot opportunities, Motiejunas did not even see the court in the second half. That plan actually worked as Lithuania countered Australia's pace with some running of their own, hacking into the deficit as Motiejunas rode the pine. 

He played just eight minutes of the game and mustered only one field goal. Between two Lithuanian NBAers—Valanciunas and Motiejunas—they managed only six points and each produced a minus-15 floor rating.

Australia set to neutralize these two players, and the plan worked like clockwork. Collapsing on the middle and pushing the ball to the perimeter resulted in Lithuania missing 11 of 16 three-point attempts. 


Renaldas Seibutis: A

Seibutis looked like the best player on his team for much of the game, making all of his shots from two-point range and from the foul line. He put up 21 for the game and got to the line six times. 

Free-throw shooting nearly carried Lithuania, converting 20 of 22 foul shots, but the team needed some three-pointers to fall in order to complete the comeback. 

Seibutis struggled in this area, as did all his teammates, and he made only one of his four attempts. It was still an excellent shooting performance in all other respects for the game's high scorer. 


Darjus Lavrinovic: B

Having twins on a team is always fun. Just ask Marcus and Markieff Morris. Far from just an entertaining pair, the Lavrinovic brothers left their imprint on the game against Australia. 

Darjus scored 14 points despite taking only five shots. Ksistof Lavrinovic scored eight points and took two shots, adding four rebounds in 15 minutes of action. Darjus even blocked a couple of shots. 

Even though Valanciunas and Motiejunas brought almost nothing to the game, Lithuania hung tough because of efficient output from the likes of Seibutis and the Lavrinovic brothers. 


Rest of Team: C

Guard Martynas Pocius offered some thoughts as to why his team tends to play so well in third quarters. As he told Pinoy Basketball:

"It might be a lot of times we're not playing well in the first half and coach whips our butts at half-time and we have to start playing. 

Maybe it's that, maybe it's coincidence, but at least we're doing it, at least we're stepping up."

It showed, with a 28-15 run from Lithuania to open the second half. Pocius ended with six points. Paulius Jankunas chipped in nine points off the bench as Lithuania deployed a very balanced rotation, with nine players seeing at least 13 minutes on the court. 


Coming Up Next:

With the win for the Aussies, they are tied with Lithuania for second in Group D with identical 2-1 records. Slovenia leads the group with a 3-0 record. 

Lithuania concludes group play with Korea on Wednesday and Slovenia on Thursday. Australia will wrap up with Mexico and Angola.


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