Team USA basketball survived a scare from Lithuania Saturday, squeaking a 99-94 win with LeBron James leading the way down the stretch. James had 20 points in the game, nine coming in the last four minutes.
The Americans trailed 84-82 with six minutes left and were only up by a point with four minutes remaining. James hit a three to start the late-game run for the Americans.
Carmelo Anthony continued his hot shooting with 20 points off the bench and Kevin Durant had 16 points in the win. Kobe Bryant had a quiet game with only seven points on a 1-7 shooting night, 0-3 from three.
Lithuania isn’t a team that would be intimidated by the Americans. Linas Kleiza and Jonas Valanciunas both are on the Toronto Raptors and the Lithuanian team defeated the Americans at the 2004 Olympics. Kleiza led the Lithuanians with 25 points, and added three assists.
Lithuania out-shot the Americans in every way. They were 58 percent from the field, 7-16 from three and 11-15 from the free throw line. The Americans only shot 44 percent, 10-33 from three and 19-31 from the line.
Turnovers were the equalizer. The Americans forced 17 steals and 23 turnovers overall, while only turning the ball over nine times.
The USA’s defense struggled in throughout the game giving up easy buckets to the Lithuanians, but they turned up the intensity late. Down by two with six minutes to play, the Americans only gave up six points over the next five minutes before Lithuania tacked a couple buckets on late.
Team USA will finish pool play Monday against Argentina. The Argentineans played the Americans tough in an exhibition before the Olympics and they should give team USA another rough battle.