Up to this point, Indiana Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton and Team USA have dominated the FIBA World Cup. But on Sunday, they suffered their first slip-up – a loss to New Orleans Pelicans big man Jonas Valanciunas and Lithuania.
A slow start ended up being the downfall of Team USA, as they fell into a 31-12 hole after the first quarter. And while they bounced back a bit in the third, they could never get over the hump, losing 110-104.
Tyrese Haliburton, Team USA suffer first FIBA World Cup defeat to Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania
Haliburton churned in another decent performance off the bench, at least in the playmaking department, as he dished out seven assists. Unfortunately, he only scored three points, shooting 1-of-2 from the field.
Anthony Edwards led the way for Team USA once again, pouring in an impressive 35 points to go along with two assists and three steals. He shot 14-of-26 from the floor and 5-of-13 from distance.
Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges had 14 points apiece, but the other two Team USA starters, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Josh Hart, only combined for three points and three rebounds.
On the flip side, Valanciunas put up a 12-point, seven-rebound performance in which he shot 4-of-6 from the field and 1-of-1 from deep.
However, it was Vaidas Kariniauskas who led Lithuania in scoring, dropping 15 points off the bench to go along with five rebounds off the bench.
USA’s lack of size caught up to them in this game. The biggest guy in their starting lineup is Jackson Jr., and he had five fouls against Lithuania. Walker Kessler, Bobby Portis, and Paolo Banchero come off the bench, too, but most teams they go up against have a serious size advantage.
They got out-rebounded 43-27 by Lithuania, including an 18-9 advantage for Valanciunas’ squad on the offensive glass.
Lithuania also earned a big-time edge behind the three-point line, making 14 threes to USA’s 11. However, the real disparity came in the efficiency department, as USA shot 11-for-29 (37.9%) while Lithuania went 14-for-25 (56.0%).
Team USA is still moving on to the knockout stage, as this was just their first loss of the tournament. They will play Italy in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, September 5.