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USA Basketball Looks Mediocre For A Half, Cruises to 96-68 Victory over Lithuania Anyway

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Team USA led by just eight at halftime, but a monster third quarter propelled the Americans to a 28-point victory to give them a spot in the FIBA World Cup Finals.

David Ramos

This is not a fun USA Basketball team.

The United States had a huge second half and won the game by a massive scoreline much like in several of the team's other games this tournament, but the performance left much to be desired and was just plain hard to watch at times.

For nearly the entire first half the United States seemed to be running pickup basketball offense. You know how when you play pickup and there's always that one guy on your team that brings the ball up, doesn't even think about passing, and pulls up for a three? Multiple USA players played the role of that guy in this game. If it wasn't a quick three it was a one-pass possession into a mid-range jumper. Maybe there's a halfhearted pick-and-roll thrown in every now and then. It was just, awful, no good basketball. In the first half we were momentarily spared with a gorgeous Kenneth Faried drive, spin, and slam through a pack of Lithuanian defenders, but then it was back to the slog of iso-ball and pull-up jumpers.

Defensively, it wasn't much better. James Harden's defense is always a punchline, but he was out there trying to pass this garbage off as defense (and note Kyrie Irving just chilling in the background).

Despite all of this, Lithuania was unable to take advantage. They turned the ball over way too much. They were unable to finish around the basket. The USA may have played an incredibly ugly 20 minutes of basketball, but regardless they went into the half holding a 43-35 lead.

Then the third quarter happened. The ball started to move a little more. The USA got out into transition. Harden was nailing threes. Stephen Curry was nailing threes. Kyrie was tossing lobs up to Anthony Davis. If you blinked at the start of the second half you would've totally missed the 18-2 run that put the Americans into a commanding 61-37 lead, virtually ending the game with more than 15 minutes left to play.

The United States won the third quarter 33-14, and kept it rolling in the fourth en route to a 96-68 victory. Kyrie Irving led the way with 18 points on 8/15 shooting, while James Harden and Klay Thompson chipped in with 16 points each. The USA had multiple players in foul trouble throughout the game, and ultimately Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins fouled out as Lithuania shot 42 free throws in the contest.

Team USA may have gotten the victory, but if they get off to another slow start in the gold medal game then... oh who am I kidding? The United States will almost definitely win the final by 20+ points no matter how poorly they may play, and nobody is going to really care except for a few disappointed Frenchmen or Serbians. The rest of us will be left wondering what might have been in a Spain/USA championship game.