Olympics 2012: Why Team USA Basketball Needed Threat of Loss Against Lithuania
Andre Iguodala takes on LeBron James in practice. Photo Credit: Joseph Glorioso Photography, Flickr.com
Olympic basketball doesn’t always go as planned. Team USA defeated the Lithuanian basketball team 99-94, but the story is that it was never supposed to be that close. With that said, it’s that kind of kick in the shorts that team USA needs to propel themselves to a gold medal.
A closer look at the numbers shows the game didn’t have to be so close. Team USA shot just 19-31 from the free-throw line and 10-33 from the three-point line. Lithuania shot 58.5% percent from the field while holding the USA squad to just 44.3%.
You would think that those kinds of numbers would lead to a Lithuanian win but all it resulted in was a scare.
LeBron James did his thing again with 20 points, five rebounds and three steals. Kevin Love led the team with eight rebounds but shot a horrid 3-8 from the free-throw line. Chris Paul led the team in assists with six to go along with seven points, seven rebounds and four steals. Kobe Bryant was a non-factor for most of the game, with just six points, two rebounds and two steals.
For the Lithuanian team, Linas Kleiza scored 25 points with five rebounds and three assists. Both of the starting guards recorded six assists, which almost equaled the USA team as a whole (13 to 12).
This was a really important win for the United States because it brought them down to earth a bit after their 83-point massacre.
Team USA needs a bit of fear. They need to avoid the kind of hubris that accompanies being the tournament favorite. It’s that kind of excessive pride that causes them to overlook an opponent. That’s exactly what happened today.
It could have very easily turned into a loss but team USA figured it out and did just enough to pull out the victory.
Lithuania isn’t the most talented team in the tournament. But they did just turn into the most important. They’ve re-lit the fire under team USA and the rest of the world is back on notice.
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I wear many hats. I will become a father for the first time in July 2013. My work career started as an umpire, evolved to a blackjack dealer and has settled as a sportswriter. You could say I'm used to getting yelled at. I love me some Minnesota Timberwolves but currently call Phoenix home. I'm an eight handicap and a terrible leaper.