ATHENS, Greece -- Redemption came from the perfect spot -- the 3-point line -- for Sarunas Jasikevicius.
The Lithuanian guard, whose off-target 3-pointer kept his team from pulling off the biggest upset of the Sydney Olympics, didn't miss when it counted
Saturday night against the Americans in a thrilling 94-90 victory.
He hit three in a row from behind the arc as the fourth quarter wound down, including a rare four-point play that put his team ahead to stay. He
finished with 28 points.
The loss was the second of the Athens Games for the Americans, matching their total from the country's first 68 years of Olympic competition. But the
U.S. team still can make it to the quarterfinals with a victory over Angola on Monday.
The Americans gave their best all-around performance of these Olympics and led for most of the game, but they missed 11 of 33 foul shots to allow
Lithuania to stay close.
Lithuania went 10-for-10 from the line in the fourth quarter before Jasikevicius was fouled on a 3-pointer with 2:47 left and hit the foul shot. After
a miss by Allen Iverson, Jasikevicius made another to make it 88-84.
Richard Jefferson answered with a 3, but Jasikevicius wasn't done. He made another 3-pointer to restore a four-point edge. A turnover by Stephon
Marbury was followed by a pair of foul shots by Jasikevicius to make it 93-87 with 57 seconds left.
Lithuania improved to 4-0, clinching the top spot in Group A and joining Spain as the only two unbeaten teams. Saulius Strombergas added 16 points and
Ramunas Siskauskas had 14.
Jefferson returned to the starting lineup and led the U.S. team with 20 points. Tim Duncan added 16.
"We have to play four quarters of our best basketball, or it's going to be kind of ugly," U.S. coach Larry Brown had predicted.
The Americans were anything but ugly, finding ways to penetrate the zone defense, using their defense to create turnovers and generally looking as
crisp for 40 minutes as they have since coming together for training camp late last month.
But it still wasn't good enough against an opponent with more experience playing together and more poise down the stretch.