LeBron James and his USA men's basketball teammates survived their first test of the London 2012 Olympics Games Saturday, beating Lithuania 99-94.
Two days after an 83-point drubbing of Nigeria, Team USA faced the team from the Baltic nation that can play spoiler – and the Lithuanians led in the fourth quarter.
The Americans didn't take the lead for good until Chris Paul hit a 3-pointed with 5:38 left.
Miami Heat superstar James took over late, scoring eight of his 20 points in the final four minutes to help Team USA stay undefeated at London 2012.
Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points and Kevin Durant contributed 16.
The Lithuanians upset Team USA in group play during the 2004 Athens Games, though the Americans won a rematch in the bronze medal game. Regardless, that was eons ago in the annals of Team USA basketball.
James and Carmelo Anthony were lightly-used rookies in Athens. In London, their third Olympics with Team USA, the pair are leaders. Anthony broke an Olympic record with 38 points against Nigeria. James is second on the team in assists.
The two have been so effective in London that USA coach Mike Krzyzewski kept them on the bench during the second half of the blowout win on Thursday. He brought that up when asked whether his team ran up the score against Nigeria.
"Obviously, the first thing we did was not play LeBron and Kobe in the second half," Krzyzewski said defiantly. "The second thing was, even with Carmelo shooting like that, we benched him. We didn't play (Kevin) Durant. We didn't take any fast breaks in the fourth quarter, and we played all zone. You have to take a shot every 24 seconds, and the shots we took happened to be hit.
"I take offense to his question, because there's no way in the world that our program in the United States is ever out to humiliate anyone. And a coach would be humiliated if we didn't play hard, but the score is irrelevant to us. We just want to play well and win."
The Americans were in such a rhythm that day, scoring 1.8 points per possession, that it is hard to imagine the momentum coming to a halt against Lithuania, who have lost two of its three games thus far in London. The team features two current NBA players, Linus Kleiza and Jonas Valanciunas, both of the Toronto Raptors.
The Americans, who are now 4-0 in London, next play Argentina on Monday. That team was the last to beat the U.S. men's squad at the Olympics, in the 2004 semifinals.