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Irving and Thompson

USA Advances To Gold Medal Game At FIBA World Cup

For three of the four quarters Lithuania managed to hang with Team USA, but a third quarter scoring explosion by the Americans proved to be too much for the Lithuanians to handle and the US won by a wide margin.  The 96-68 score wasn’t indicative of how hard Team USA had to fight.

As expected, Lithuania played a tough physical game, however, it was the Americans that got into the early foul trouble and both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins fouled out. Kenneth Faried, who has been tearing up defenses all tournament, was held to just 9 points and 6 rebounds.

At half, USA was fortunate to be leading 43-35, primarily on the strong play of Klay Thompson’s 6-11 shooting for 14 points. Lithuania’s small forward Mandaugas Kuzminskas was able to take advantage of James Harden and the US smaller lineup for 12 points and 7 boards in the first half.

“Klay’s play in the first half was the biggest reason we were ahead at half time,” USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski said during the post game press conference.

The USA opened the second half at a new pace and started converting opportunities into points. Kyrie Irving turned it up a notch and Harden got mad, finally taking advantage of his mismatch at the offensive end. The third quarter quickly turned into a 33-14 blowout for a plus 20 point lead that the US never gave back.

“Kyrie was special in this game,” Krzyzewski said. “In the third quarter, he got us moving.”

Irving led all scorers with 18 points on 8-15 shooting. Thompson and Harden finished with 16 points each.

Kuzminskas was held to just 3 second half points to finish with 15 points and 9 rebounds.

Without their starting point guard Mantas Kalnietis, Lithuania has turnover problems and the US was able to take advantage of the 21 Lithuanian turnovers to score 24 points. Adas Juskevicius stepped in to play big minutes at the point against the Americans and scored 12 points despite going 1-8 from the field as he was a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line.

Inside, Jonas Valanciunas contributed 15 points on 11-13 free throws and 7 boards and was the primary reason why the American big men were in foul trouble.

 

USA v Lithuania – Post Game Press Conference – FIBA 2014 Basketball World Cup

 

USA vs. Lithuania Boxscore

 

Lithuania moves on to the Bronze Medal game against the loser of the other semifinal between Serbia and France on Saturday.

The USA goes for Gold against the other semifinal winner on Sunday.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.