LONDON -- LeBron James stepped up in the homestretch as Team USA survived its first real test in the London Olympics, holding off a hot-shooting Lithuania side, 99-94, on Sunday night.
The NBA's reigning MVP scored nine of his team-high 20 points inside the final two minutes when the highly fancied American squad finally put to bed a game which until then had been close, 87-86.
The win, coming after a record 156-point performance against Nigeria a day earlier, clinched for the Americans a place in the meda playoffs.
But it was by no means easy.
Led by the 25 points of captain and NBA player Linas Kleiza, Lithuania went on a 10-2 run in the final period to grab the lead, 82-80, and was only within 87-86 when James led the game-clinching 12-2 finish ffor the US multi-millionaires.
Lithuania has had a history of success against the powerhouse team of US professionals that includes a 1998 world championships victory and a 94-90 triumph at the 2004 Olympics.
Team USA, nonetheless, improved to 58-1 under coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Carmelo Anthony matched James' 20 points while Kevin Durant added 16 for the Americans.