MADRID, Spain (Aug. 21, 2010) - The 2010 USA Men's World Championship Team overcame icy cold shooting in the first half, but never gave up and rebounded in the second half to earn a tough 77-61 victory over Lithuania on Saturday night inside the Magic Box in Madrid, Spain.Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) led all scorers on the night with 15 points, while Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies) and Player of the Game Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) checked in for 14 and 12 points, respectively.
The U.S. will face defending world champion Spain tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. local (3:00 p.m. EDT live on ESPNU with a rebroadcast on ESPN2 at 11:00 p.m. EDT), before heading to Athens for its final exhibition game against Greece on Aug. 25 at 7:00 p.m. local (12:00 p.m. EDT live on ESPN).
Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers) drove to the hoop to give the U.S. the lead for good, 50-49, at 2:29, but it was a play involving a fast-breaking Gay 20 seconds later that really turned the tide. AfterRajon Rondo (Boston Celtics) disrupted a shot by Lithuania, the U.S. got the ball and Gay was streaking down the court when he was intentionally fouled by Mantas Kalnietis. In the confusion that ensued, Linas Kleiza was called for a technical. Gay sunk both his free throw tries and thenEric Gordon (Los Angeles Clippers) stepped up to take the two for the tech and swished in both of his tries to push the USA advantage to 54-49.
"That helped us a lot," said Gay. "Those four straight foul shots really got us into position where we can play and be the aggressor."
Granger's basket and the four free throws were the start of a game-deciding 17-0 run that was capped by a Westbrook layup that left the U.S. in control 65-49. The USA held Lithuania to a single free throw over a span of 7:25 as the USA's opponents finally knocked down a three with 5:19 to play.
"I think the key for me and the rest of the team is coming out and having a defensive mindset and I think that was a key for me, just coming out and defending," said Westbrook, who knocked down 4-of-5 from the field and hit both of his 3-point attempts. "I think if we defend our offense will take care of itself, we'll be able to get into the lane and kick it out for open shots. I was just able when they kicked it out to knock down some shots, then try and get into the lane and get everybody else some shots as well."