After Team USA clawed back from down 21 to make it a four-point game with under 10 seconds left in regulation, Paolo Banchero intercepted a Lithuania inbounds pass, then passed the ball to Knicks star Josh Hart, who contorted his body in mid-air to get the rock to Bridges, wide-open in the corner.
Bridges let it fly. The ball clanked off the side of the rim. Then it careened into the backcourt to start a Lithuania fastbreak. The game effectively ended there.
Bridges didn’t lose the game for the Americans on Sunday. The heartbreaking finish undermined his most impressive performance of the FIBA World Cup. The Nets star finished with 14 points, two blocks and a steal on five-of-seven shooting from the field — before he missed the crunch-time shot. He hit a huge top-of-the-key three to make it a six-point game at the bottom of the third quarter.
Then he hit another to make it a five-point game late in the fourth quarter.
He also came off curl action at the elbow for a pull-up jumper Nets fans have grown accustomed to seeing since his arrival in Brooklyn as part of the Kevin Durant trade.
And as usual, Bridges’ best attribute on Sunday was his defense — and his durability. He played 26-and-a-half of possible 40 minutes against Lithuania.
The miss, however, will likely haunt Bridges at least until Team USA advances past Italy. It was a wide-open look with the game hanging in the balance. Now the Americans are one loss away from coming home empty handed.
TOO MUCH ISO BALL?
Timberwolves superstar and de facto Team USA captain Anthony Edwards scored a game-high 35 points on 14-of-26 shooting from the field, but no other player on his team attempted more than 10 shots.
And while it’s easy to nitpick the box score in the face of Team USA’s first World Cup loss this summer, it’s fair to note things got stagnant offensively for the Americans while Lithuania put on a MasterClass in ball and body movement.
It’s hard to make an argument, however, that Edwards should shoot any less. He’s clearly the most talented player on this team and easily one of the best players competing in the World Cup not named Luka Doncic.
Plus he makes everything look sensational. The Wolves surely have an all-time great on their hands.
NEW YORK MINUTE
Former Knicks draft picks Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Ignas Brazdeikis combined for 25 points in Lithuania’s victory over Team USA. Knicks 22-year-old draft-and-stash point guard Rokas Jokubaitis also played well as the starter, finishing with nine points, six assists and a steal.
Jalen Brunson was one of few players for Team USA in double figures with 14 points and played his normal share of minutes after seeing a slightly reduced workload after Tyrese Haliburton’s emergence. Hart started in place of Brandon Ingram once again, but his rebounding and hustle-play abilities were negated by a bigger and more physical Lithuania team.
Nets star Cam Johnson played well in spurts and injected life into Team USA’s veins when they trailed by 21. Johnson made several heady plays and finished with three points in 11 minutes.