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Durant, Team USA level Lithuanian challenge, advance to FIBA Finals

Sep 11, 2010, 2:02 PM EDT

Hey, the good news is that Lithuania was right. Team USA probably isn’t invincible.

Kevin Durant in this tournament, though? Yeah, he’s pretty close to it.

Durant scored 38 points in an 88-74 win over LIthuania, as Team USA advanced to the FIBA World Championship Finals. Durant wound up 14-25 from the floor, despite every attempt made by Lithuania to stop him. They tried man. They tried zone. They tried help. They tried face-guarding. Nothing worked. Durant simply owned them as you would expect from someone who bombed 38 points in FIBA play. We’ve already had several “coming out parties” for Durant. He’s already arrived. But this game will certainly be added to his legacy as a sign of the greatness we all fully predict will come from him.

Meanwhile, Lithuania had almost no opportunity to respond. Their red-hot shooting against Argentina bottomed into nothingness (38% from the field) under a stifling USA defense that will not get the pub it deserves because, well, Durant dropped 38. Lithuania’s star, Linas Kleiza, managed just 4 points on 1-11 shooting, after Andre Iguodala decided to lock down on him and completely shut him off. Lithuania hung without getting blown out of the building, in part thanks to Team USA’s latest bout of poor three point shooting (32% from the arc).

Derrick Rose was benched the entire fourth quarter for USA after an unimpressive showing, forcing shots and looking erratic. There’s talk that his play may have caused Coach K to abandon his faith in Chicago’s dynamic point guard, but that’s probably premature, considering the wide variance in decisions from one game to the next from the Hall of Fame coach.

Today was Lamar Odom’s big game, as the Laker forward finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks and a steal. Odom’s been is usual space cadet self against most of the rest of the world, but his productions is still trickling in, and against a smaller Lithuania team, he flourished, bullied, and busted his way through.

USA will play the winner of the other Semifinal today, when Serbia faces host nation Turkey. If you’re looking for the matchup everyone wants, it’s Turkey vs. USA., as Turkey has been downright dominant in this tournament (in their own right), with the Bucks’ Ersan Ilyasova and the Suns’ Hedo Turkoglu both making impact. Serbia is no slouch, though, after downing the arguable favorite in Spain in a (very) minor shocker.

As Durant said he would on Twitter, Durant wrote “9-11-1″ in memory of those who were affected by the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. In an era where many are exploiting the tragedy for personal self-aggrandizement, once again it’s Durant showing a more humble, more inspiring way of showcasing the better parts of humanity. The kid is human, and isn’t too good to be true. And he’s not invincible. But today he certainly seemed like it.

Just ask Lithuania.

Ser

  1. marc - Sep 11, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    Durant it seems is getting better everyday he is rising to the occasion despite all the pressure put on him. He is this team’s only go to guy and he is just flat out getting the job done.
    Durant will be MVP one day in the NBA if he keeps up his level of play its only a matter of time and he is fastly becoming the new face of the NBA replacing LeCan’t James.
    The only bad thing about this situation is that I’m a Lakers fan and I know that Durant and Westbrook will use this experience to be even more confident then they already were and they will be an even greater force then they were last year.
    Keep up the good work KD!

  2. Tress - Sep 11, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    Actually LO had a 8pts and 12 rebs last game haters! I woder if some of you even watch the games!
    Congrats Team USA for proving the idiots wrong with each win!

  3. surlybird - Sep 11, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    Tress not sure who you are typing about but I only see marc and you, he admits to being an LAker fan. I understand the love/hate you all have with Odom but he is a very good player and has been this whole tournament. Even the announcers are talking him up. There are more LA fans in the world than any other type.
    Great game USA keep proving the talking heads wrong and I hope most of this team gets to play in the Olympics. They deserve it.

  4. daniel brown - Sep 11, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    u-s-a, u-s-a,….we’re going for gold baby….and in five years kevin will be the best player in the league…maybe three

  5. adam - Sep 11, 2010 at 7:37 PM

    why oh why can’t we watch these games live on television. feel like espn is missing a big opportunity.

  6. Tony - Sep 11, 2010 at 8:25 PM

    In one word “FOOTBALL” football is still king in the U S A

  7. Omnius - Sep 12, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    Let’s not get carried away laying too many accolades on Kevin Durant, let’s wait until he wins an NBA championship before anyone appoints him the annointed one. Kevin Durant is a rising star but he has yet to arrive. His FIBA showing has been impressive, no wonder the OKC Thunder gave the Lakers a hard series. Lamar Odom shows up when he needs to, let’s keep this in perspective as this FIBA championship is not the NBA playoffs or Finals so why should he get overly excited. Still a great showing by Team USA and Team Turkey. Nice to see the host country Turkey do so well and the championship game a battle between two unbeaten teams. Go Team USA!

  8. tony - Sep 12, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    i agree with marc, i too am a laker fan and i am worried about next year. i live in wa. and hated to see the sonics (kevin durant) move to ok. this kid will be a force with or without a ring. how many years did it take jordan to get his ring?

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