London, England – Lithuania figured to be a tougher matchup for the U.S. men's basketball team than Nigeria, but not this difficult.
After a record-setting performance in an 83-point victory on Thursday, the U.S. trailed in the fourth quarter on Saturday but a late run kept the Americans unbeaten in the Olympic tournament with a 99-94 victory.
LeBron James scored 20 points and keyed a 15-4 run that turned an 84-82 deficit with just under six minutes remaining into a 97-88 lead. Carmelo Anthony added 20 points for the Americans, while Kevin Durant chipped in 16.
"We had to make some big plays to win," said Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "We beat an outstanding team today and had a lot of game pressure on us and we came through and I am proud of them for doing that."
The U.S., on the heels of its 156-73 win over Nigeria, improved to 4-0 in Group A and will close the preliminary round on Monday against Argentina.
Linas Kleiza scored 25 points for Lithuania, which fell to 1-3 and will try to gain a spot in the quarterfinals on Monday against winless Tunisia.
The Lithuanians shot a staggering 58.5 percent on Saturday, including 7-of-16 from three-point territory, but were undone by 23 turnovers. The U.S., aided by 17 steals, scored 26 points off the Lithuania miscues and committed just nine turnovers.
"The game itself is incredibly important for us," Krzyzewski noted. "Not only did we win, but we were put in a position where every possession counted. We are not usually in that type of game. We are going to be in those games if we want to win the gold medal."
After a 12-4 run to start the contest, the Americans just couldn't shake the hot-shooting Lithuanians. The U.S. held a 33-25 advantage after one, managed only a 55-51 margin at the break and led by only as much as six in the third quarter.
Kleiza's three-pointer three minutes into the fourth capped a 10-2 run to start the final period, giving Lithuania an 82-80 lead. After trading baskets, Chris Paul drilled a three to put the U.S. on top for good.
Deron Williams followed with a layup off the break to make it a three-point game, but Darius Songaila answered to draw Lithuania within one with 4:12 left.
James then got hot. He connected from long range, then flew in for a dunk off a Paul steal and an outlet from Williams to make it 92-86. After another Songaila bucket, Paul came up with a key offensive rebound on the next U.S. trip and Williams made it count by drilling a three before James added a driving layup for a nine-point margin with 2:10 remaining.
"He took the game over, I thought," Krzyzewski added. "For those people that say he doesn't produce at the end of ballgames, he always produces for us at the end of ballgames. He was terrific and really made the plays that needed to be made both offensively and defensively in the last three minutes."
Williams finished with 12 points for the U.S., while Paul contributed seven points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Songaila scored 11 in defeat and Martynas Pocius netted 14 with seven rebounds and six assists.