After a great performance against Canada on Independence Day, hopes and expectations for James Bell were sky-high. When Team USA took the court against Lithuania, there were still concerns, however, that the Americans would lose a third straight to the Baltic nation. After a six-point American lead suddenly evaporated near the end of regulation, that certainly seemed to be the case.
Lithuania tied the score at 94 and the two teams headed into overtime. Team USA ultimately survived, winning 107-105, to avenge a 23-point exhibition loss prior to the tournament.
James Bell scored only 2 points, on a dunk that allowed the US to temporarily re-take the lead in overtime. The game-winning shot was hit by UConn's Jeremy Lamb with 2 seconds left, however, after Bell ran down a rebound of a 3-pointer missed by Lithuania's Edgaras Ulanovas. Lamb lead all scorers with 32 points.
Jeff Goodman reports that USA Coach Paul Hewitt said, "We showed a lot of resiliency. Our guys didn’t freelance, they executed and we got the ball inside."
In addition to his 2 points, Bell had three rebounds and an assist in what was otherwise a quiet game for him on the offensive side of the ball. Scoring might not have been a priority for Bell in this match, however, because five of his teammates recorded double-digit points -- Joe Jackson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Doug McDermott and Patric Young all had at least 10 points.
Lithuania was lead by Jonas Valanciunas, who was a lottery-pick by the Toronto Raptors in this summer's NBA Draft. Valanciunas had 30 points and 15 rebounds in the loss. His teammate, Edgaras Ulanovas, added 29 points on 44% shooting from beyond the arc, while Dovydas Redikas connected on 3 of 6 from deep, tallying 22 points.
"[Valanciunas is] the real deal. I love his competitiveness," according to Hewitt, "After the game, he was so upset he was crying and punching walls. He went Rambo on us in the second half."
With the win the Americans are now the last remaining undefeated team in the tournament and have locked up a spot in the quarterfinals. They will play again tomorrow against Croatia before the single-elimination phase of the event begins on Friday. It is still possible that Team USA will face the Lithuanians again later in the tournament.
Croatia went 2-1 in the initial group stage and will be coming off a 68-73 loss to Serbia when they meet the Americans tomorrow.