Team USA had their first legitimate scare of the Olympic so far as Lithuania led the game in the fourth quarter with seven minutes to play.
The United States were coming off an 83-point victory vs. Nigeria two days ago and perhaps them not be challenged so far in the Olympics had something to do with this game being so close.
Now that the games are starting to get serious for Team USA, it’s time to seriously grade each player for them:
LeBron James – 35 minutes, 20 points, 5 rebounds, 0 assists – A
LeBron was quiet early in this one very much like he has been all Olympics so far. He hasn’t been needed to do much for Team USA so far but really stepped up in the fourth quarter vs. Lithuania. LeBron scored nine of Team USA’s final 12 points effectively shutting the door on any hopes Lithuania had of pulling off the upset. LeBron surprisingly didn’t have an assist in the game but that may have had a lot to do with the U.S. shooting so poorly from three in the game.
Kevin Durant – 28 minutes, 16 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists – C+
This wasn’t Durant’s best game and we are seeing him turn into more of a one-dimensional player on this team, becoming just a catch-and-shoot guy from behind the 3-point line. There’s not a lot wrong with that as he made 4-of-7 threes vs. Lithuania but he has kind of struggled scoring in other areas. Durant also was taken advantage of inside a few times by Lithuania and since he is being asked to play a lot of power forwards and centers that is not a good thing.
Carmelo Anthony – 25 minutes, 20 points, 3 rebounds – B
Anthony was coming off a fantastic game against Nigeria in which he set a U.S. Olympic record with 37 points and made 10-of-12 threes in the process. Anthony continued his hot shooting early in this one but then cooled off later. Much like Durant, Anthony has struggled with his defense inside and it was a weakness of this team that Lithuania revealed in this game. Overall it would be nice to see Anthony as committed on defense as he is on offense to get a better grade.
Kobe Bryant – 20 minutes, 6 points, 1 assist – C
Kobe really struggled shooting in this one going just 1-of-7 from the field and didn’t play very well on defense either. He often bit on pump fakes by Lithuania players at the 3-point line leaving the rest of the defense at a disadvantage. Sometimes Kobe just seems to not really fit in with this team being the old man of the group and the ball of course almost always stops when he gets his hands on it.
Chris Paul – 28 minutes, 7 points, 6 assists, 4 steals – A-
Paul was pretty good in this game and very good late. He was one of the most clutch players in the NBA last season and when he has the ball in his hands late with this team, good things always happen. He made a great play in transition late to find Durant for an easy dunk. He struggled a little from the field and was 1-for-4 on threes but other than that was great.
Deron Williams – 23 minutes, 12 points, 2 assists – B
Williams wasn’t the most efficient in this game ever but the 12 points he did contribute despite needing 12 shots to get them were valuable. With Team USA settling for so many threes in these Olympics, Williams is always a good guy to have on the floor and he made a pair of treys in this one.
Russell Westbrook – 14 minutes, 7 points, 2 rebounds – C
Westbrook was out of control and out of rhythm even more so than usual against Lithuania. Not being able to roam freely all over the floor like he does in OKC has made him very much less effective in the Olympics. He made some bad decisions on offense and defense in this one and really can play a lot better for this team. His strengths were not taken advantage of in this game and it made up seem like kind of a waste when he was in.
Kevin Love – 12 minutes, 7 points, 8 rebounds – C
Love really struggled from the free throw line going 3-of-8 and seems to not be in love with the FIBA basketball. He works so hard though and led the team with eight boards. Team USA needed him too in this one being one of the only actual big men on the roster. For Team USA to win gold and beat teams like Argentina and Spain, Love will have to play well and give them a little more than he did today.
Tyson Chandler – 8 minutes, 1 point, 1 rebound – D
Chandler has done very little for this team so far in the Olympics and hasn’t seen a lot of playing time despite starting every game. He went 1-for-4 from the free throw line in this one which makes him a liability to have on the floor on offense. Coach K has elected to go with smaller lineups and sacrifice the interior defense that he provides because of this. It would be nice to see him playing better and getting more minutes because Team USA may need him especially if they play Spain in the medal round.
James Harden – 4 minutes, 3 points, 1 steal – B
Harden barely played in this one and did make one very good play in his short time on the floor, making a steal and finishing at the rim with an and-1 layup. He won’t get a ton of minutes in close games for Team USA especially with him shooting not so great from three so far in the Olympics. He missed his only 3-point shot attempt today.
Andre Iguodala – 3 minutes, 1 rebound, 3 fouls – D
Iguodala got in early but picked up three very quick fouls and never came back in. Coach K likes him and will continue to use him in some spots. Team USA honestly could have used him more in this one since he is one of their best defenders on the perimeter and a good rebounder. Nothing much more to say about him vs. Lithuania though.
Topics: 2012 Olympics, Andre Iguodala, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Lithuania, Mike Krzyzewski, Russell Westbrook, Tyson Chandler, USA Basketball