USA won but trembled against Lithuania: USA 99 Lithuania 94 / London Olympics News

Over at the Basketball Arena the USA are unable to shake off Lithuania and hold a slender lead. It is 99-94 in the closing stages.

That was close. Appreciative applause for the Lithuanians after they push the Dream Team until the final seconds, eventually succumbing 99-94. Twenty-three turnovers proving costly for the Europeans. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony carried their team over the line, scoring 20 points each and USA now go above France in Group A.

That was certainly a different game for the USA team than the last one wasn’t it? Is there some way that the Olympics committee could give Lithuania at least a half a win there? As much as it was fun to watch the team wrack up pinball numbers against Nigeria, basketball gets better when the stakes get realer.

There were questions about this team, about who would take over the game if and when they ever got into trouble. It seems like that answer, unsurprisingly considering he’s the reigning MVP and the NBA Finals MVP, is LeBron James who took at the end of the game. If he wants to be known as the best basketball player in the world, well the Olympics are the best place to prove it. He certainly passed his first real test today.

Lithuania, with its crisp sets featuring precise ball movement and non-stop motion, almost pulled off the biggest upset in the tournament.

The USA, which hasn’t lost in Olympic play since 2004, faced its toughest opponent and held off fearless Lithuania 99-94 Saturday.

U.S. forwards LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony each scored a team-high 20 points.

The Americans, who trailed 56-55 in the third quarter and 84-82 with 5:50 left in the fourth quarter finally took control in the closing minutes. They went on a 15-4 run paced by seven points from James and five points from Deron Williams to give themselves breathing room.

Linas Kleiza had 25 points for Lithuania.

The USA is 4-0 and atop Group A standings. It wraps up group play against Argentina Monday at 5:15 p.m. ET. The quarterfinals begin Wednesday.

Russia, the second most impressive team in the competition, defeated Spain 77-74 in another important result Saturday. Russia remained unbeaten and handed Spain its first loss in Group B play.

The implication: If Russia wins the group and Spain finishes second, Russia will play the fourth-place team in Group A (likely Lithuania), and Spain will play the third-place team in Group A (likely Argentina) in the quarterfinals.

Maybe even more important than that, if Russia wins the group, it won’t meet the U.S. until the final if both teams get there. Spain is on track to meet to the U.S. in the semifinals.

However, there is another wrinkle to the Group B standings. Spain plays Brazil Monday, and the winner will end up in the upper half of the bracket with the U.S., and the loser will go the lower half of the bracket.

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