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SPAIN 2014: USA down Lithuania to romp into Final
BARCELONA (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Klay Thompson helped the reigning world champions USA recover from a sluggish start to take a 96-68 win over Lithuania in the Semi-Finals of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and return to the Final of FIBA's flagship event for the second consecutive time.
The USA now travel to Madrid to play the winners of Friday's Semi-Final between Serbia and France in Sunday's title game at the Palacio de los Deportes.
Lithuania, who finished third at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, will also head to the Spanish capital, looking to match that result in Saturday's Third-Place Game.
The Baltic nation matched the USA move for move, play for play and most importantly score for score to keep things even at least at the beginning of the game.
Adas Juskevicius had his best start of the tournament, standing shoulder to shoulder with Jonas Valanciunas in leading the team's cause.
The Americans got their first lead of the game close to the midway point of the first quarter when Thompson - who entered the game for his Golden State Warriors teammate Stephen Curry - hit his team's first three-pointer for a 10-9 edge.
He tormented Lithuania further with another trey after Kyrie Irving also connected from beyond the arc. Derrick Rose later sank a pair of free-throws, USA took what at that point was the biggest lead of the game, 18-13.
Darjus Lavrinovic came on for Lithuania and struck immediately with a characteristic three-pointer, but Thompson ensured the advantage remained with the USA. DeMarcus Cousins closed the first period splitting his foul shots to keep the USA 21-16 ahead.
Curry opened the second quarter with free-throws for a technical foul called on Lithuania coach Jonas Kazlauskas. Thompson continued to deal blows to the defense, this time with back-to-back lay-ups, and had 14 first-half points as the USA took a 45-35 lead into the locker-room.
A technical foul on Cousins for a flagrant reaction to Valanciunas' box-out during a free-throw was the only distraction in the USA's focus.
There were no further diversions to the approach of Mike Krzyzewski's team's as they opened the second half with 10 unanswered points to virtually seal the issue.
Their 76-49 lead to start the fourth quarter was a clear reflection of the happenings on court.
Irving led all scorers with 18 points, 13 of them coming in the second half. Thompson and Harden added 16 each, while Curry finished with 13.
Mindaugas Kuzminskas who had a grand total of 12 points in Lithuania's first seven games, shared top-scoring honours with Valanciunas as both finished with 15.
World Cup Final! Let's gooooooo!!!!! pic.twitter.com/D2uwkM4ikl— Anthony Davis (@AntDavis23) September 11, 2014