Team USA bounces Lithuania, advances to World Cup final

Sacramento Kings' DeMarcus Cousins and Michael Malone at Team USA training camp. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and the rest of Team USA will play for a gold medal at the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

Avoiding the fate of their Spanish hosts, Team USA used a big third quarter to knock off Lithuania on Thursday afternoon.  Team USA will face off in the championship game against either France or Serbia, who meet on Friday to decide the second finalist.  France shocked Spain in the quarter finals on Wednesday and hope to ride that momentum through Serbia and into the finals on Sunday.

Led by NBA big men Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Montiejunas, Lithuania played a solid game early.  But Team USA shook off  foul and turnover issues to pick up the 96-68 victory and advance to the gold medal game.

Notes and Analysis

  • DeMarcus Cousins caught an elbow under the chin in the third quarter and lost his cool.  The Sacramento Kings starting center picked up a technical foul for his response, which almost turned ugly.  Cousins took an aggressive step with clinched fists towards Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas, who flinched.  It was a momentary lapse in judgement that quickly found its way into clips all over the web.
  • In Cousins’ defense, Valanciunas had his elbow in Cousins’ face the entire game.  The officiating allowed for a physical contest and Cousins reacted accordingly.  The Sacramento Kings’ match-ups against the Toronto Raptors this season just got a whole lot more interesting.
  • Cousins finished the game with a modest seven points and six rebounds in 13 minutes of foul plagued action.  Following the game, Cousins was in the middle of a fracas between the two teams, but there was no way to tell if he was an instigator, bystander or peacekeeper.
  • Rudy Gay played solid minutes in the first half spelling James Harden, who picked up two early fouls.  Gay finished with just three points, but added seven rebounds and one loose tooth in the win.
  • Klay Thompson continued his strong play, scoring 16 points off Coach K’s bench in just 27 minutes of play.  The Warriors shooting guard has been solid all tournament long, but he was huge for Team USA today.
  • Steph Curry, the other half of the Warriors “Splash Brothers” tandem, had another solid showing.  Curry struggled with foul trouble, but still put up 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting in 11 minutes.
  • Team USA led 43-35 at the half before outscoring Lithuania 33-14 in the deciding third quarter.
  • Montiejunas threw Houston Rockets teammate James Harden to the ground on a fastbreak during the third quarter.  The hard foul cost the Lithuanian big man an unsportsmanlike call.
  • Harden scored all 16 of his points in the blowout second half.

 

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About: James Ham

James Ham is co-owner and senior editor of Cowbell Kingdom, providing extensive Kings coverage through news analysis, in-depth interviews with players and staff and daily coverage of breaking news. Along with providing original content for the site, including the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast and his weekly Sunday Musings column, James also is one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary film "Small Market, Big Heart".