Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lebron James leads team USA to close 99-94 win over Lithuania

By Kshell

The United States men's basketball team survived a scare against a hungry Lithuania team as the U.S. won 99-94. The United States was carried by Lebron James who scored nine of his 20 points in the final four minutes of the game to hold off the major upset. Two days after winning by 83 points against that same Nigeria team who defeated Lithuania many thought the United States would roll. Instead led by Toronto Raptors forward Linas Kleiza who scored a game high 25 points the Lithuanian national team actually led with 7:59 left in the game. Team USA was tested for the first time in this 2012 Olympics and because of NBA Finals MVP Lebron James they survived that scare to tell about it.

In the first half Team USA sprinted out to a 33-25 first quarter lead over Lithuania as many expected the United States to grow on that lead. Instead Lithuania fought back and outscored the United States 26-22 in the second quarter as the United States led at halftime 55-51. For the first time in these Olympic games the United States didn't lead by double digits at halftime. For the first time the United States was going to have a fight on their hands as Lithuania wasn't going to back down to the United States. For the United States their backs were against the wall as coach K was probably having a nightmare flashback when his number two seeded Duke Blue Devils lost in the first round to a 15th seed. This has the feel of an NCAA tournament game where the big bad favorite was just screwing around and the underdog wasn't going away.

Team USA outscored Lithuania 23-21 in the third quarter to lead 78-72 heading into the fourth quarter. Lithuania grabbed the lead from the United States with under eight minutes left in the game. That is when Lebron James took over. With four minutes left in the game he scored 9 of his 20 points to lead the United States to a 99-94 win over Lithuania. For James he finished with 20 points on 9-14 shooting with a three pointer and five rebounds. Carmelo Anthony also scored 20 points on 7-13 shooting hitting two three pointers. Kevin Durant scored 16 points on 5-12 shooting hitting four three pointers with four rebounds. Deron Williams scored 12 points on 4-12 shooting making two three pointers. Chris Paul had a nice all around game scoring seven points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out six assists. Kobe Bryant struggled terrible scoring six points one for six shooting. Russell Westbrook scored seven points on three for seven shooting. Kevin Love scored seven points while grabbing eight rebounds but was three for eight at the free throw line. For team USA they shot 35-79(44.3%) from the field, 10-33(30.3%) from three point range and 19-31(61.2%) from the free throw line.

For Lithuania who almost pulled off the upset they shot 38-65(58.4%) from the field, 7-16(43.8%) from three point range and 11-15(73.3%) from the free throw line. They also out-rebounded the United States 42-37. They were led by Linas Kleiza who scored 25 points on 10-20 shooting including two three pointers while grabbing five rebounds and dishing out three assists. Martynus Pocius scored 14 points on 6-13 shooting with a three pointer while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out six assists. If not for 23 turnovers the upset could have happened as the Lithuanians out played the United States in every other facet of the game. Lebron James was too much for them in the end after containing him and shutting down Kobe Bryant much of the game. For Kleiza he played a wonderful game and if there is a rematch he'll be looking to finish the deal next time.

Now there is no questions how the United States will handle pressure as they got to witness it first hand. After looking unbeatable two days ago the United States almost lost a game. James like he did throughout the 2012 postseason put the team on his back and carried them down the stretch. The United States need to figure out what their lineup is going to be as their bigs struggled in this game and the free throw shooting was pathetic. The United States despite having three point guards along with James had just 13 assists as a team which shows they weren't playing team basketball. They have by far and away the most talent of any team in these olympics but if they aren't playing team ball they won't win the gold medal it is as simple as that.


- Carmelo Anthony might be the only superstar in the history of sports to ever become forgotten while playing for a New York team. Well these Olympics Anthony is showing you why it wouldn't be wise to forget about him. A game after his record setting performance proving it was no fluke Anthony scored 20 points and carried the team most of the game until James took over down the stretch. In these Olympic games Anthony is averaging 20.5 PPG and making 3.5 three pointers a game including all 14 in the last three games. In his last three games he is averaging 24.3 PPG while making 4.7 three pointers a game. Anthony just in case you forgot is a super star in this league. He is one of the top five scorers in the NBA as he can beat you in so many different ways. Hopefully Anthony can play an entire NBA regular season and postseason like he has show in these Olympics that would be something special to watch.

- If you still don't think Lebron James is clutch then you are admitting your basketball opinion no longer matters. After coming up big over and over again during these playoffs it was James who saved the United States this game. James who has been holding back a lot these games during the blowouts was needed today. He scored 9 of his 20 points in the final four minutes of the game when the game was still in doubt. Without James putting on the superman cape the United States would have suffered an embarrassing loss. Thankfully James bailed the team out. Once the United States is in the medal round look for James minutes to increase and look for him to bring his "A" game as he is clearly coasting right now. James is trying to pull the trifecta which is win NBA regular season MVP, win NBA Finals MVP and win the gold medal in the same year. Only guy so far to accomplish that is Michael Jordan. Well like he did in the playoffs James showed that yes he can close games out and yes he is very much clutch.

The United States definitely got a wake up call that yes by simply showing up to the game you aren't automatically going to win. Lithuania who has played the U.S. tough now two games in a row both times losing by under six points. The United States hopefully this wake up call to take it out on the rest of the world in the remaining tournament games. The United States have the most talent, best player and best coaching staff in the world. Sometimes all that talent can be tough such as giving out minutes. When the medal rounds began Durant, James and Bryant will be playing more as they should. By them playing more that also means minutes will be cut back for some other talented guys. This game was scary almost too scary for the United States. This game also proved that James can close out games but in all honesty it shouldn't have even came down to James closing this game out. If the United States had played better defense or made their free throws this isn't so scary. The United States proved when push come to shove that they can find a way to win. Hopefully in the future they aren't in this situation again for the remainder of the Olympics.

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