When Linas Kleiza sized up Carmelo Anthony, his former teammate in Denver, fastened his grip on the ball and rose up to sink a 3-pointer, it was not necessary to hear the roar of the pro-Lithuanian crowd to know what was happening.
All you had to do was look at the United States' bench. The cheering, towel-waving and joking around that had been ever present during the Olympics was gone. Instead, they sat as animated as a row of Easter Island statues.
Nearly midway through the fourth quarter, and the United States -- the supposedly indomitable force of basketball -- was trailing.
The Americans eventually steadied themselves, enough at least to breathe a sigh of relief, as LeBron James delivered the big plays and Chris Paul the subtle ones on the way to a 99-94 victory. But the United States did not rescue its aura of invincibility. That was left as shredded as the team's defense.
"Of course it can be done," said Brazilian guard Marcelinho Huertas, who played lat...