Dream Team comes to life, eager to win one and be done U.S. is at best in semi, routs Lithuania by 51

August 07, 1992|By Ken Rosenthal | Ken Rosenthal,Staff Writer

BARCELONA, Spain -- "One and done."

Leave it to Charles Barkley to coin a new rallying cry for the Dream Team.

One more victory, and the Dreamers win Olympic gold medals. One more victory, and they get to go home sweet home.

"Crimes, murders, I haven't heard about a good stabbing in weeks," Barkley said.

Seriously, folks, the U.S. men's basketball team played its best game of the tournament last night, trouncing Lithuania, 127-76.

Its "one and done" opponent in tomorrow night's final will be Croatia, which rallied to defeat the Unified Team, 75-74.

The United States won its first meeting with Croatia, but -- doomsayers take note -- the 33-point margin of victory was its smallest in seven Olympic games.

Against Lithuania, the NBA's elite actually showed interest, taking an 11-0 lead, and then, with the score 14-8, running off 20 straight points.

Michael Jordan was the star on this night, scoring 21 points in 22 minutes and relentlessly hounding Lithuania's Sarunas Marciulionis, who made only six of 17 shots.

"I told Michael, 'I don't need you to be Michael Jordan, I need you to be Air Jordan,' " said Magic Johnson, who had 14 points and eight assists.

Said Marciulionis, "They were holding arms and everything. They were ready to play. They wanted to shut me down."

Marciulionis, a member of the Golden State Warriors, led Lithuania with 20 points. Eight Dream Team members besides Jordan finished in double figures, led by Karl Malone with 18.

The high point for Lithuania came when 7-foot-4 center Arvydas Sabonis blocked two straight shots by David Robinson.

Sabonis was drafted by two NBA teams (Atlanta 1985, Portland 1986), but he plays an unusual style for a big man. Last night, he attempted five three-point shots.

The Lithuanians include four players who won gold medals for the Soviet Union in 1988, but they were no match for the U.S. team, which is winning its games by 45 points.

The only suspense remaining is whether coach Chuck Daly will call his first timeout. He didn't come close last night.

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