The French team hasn’t been able to gain any semblance of rapport, sans a nice second half performance against Argentina. After their crisp opening start, France opened the game on a 15-6 run and the entire starting lineup had already chipped in at that point, they continued to exhibit the kind of comfort that is absolutely paramount if they want to advance in the knockout stages.
Lithuania is a solid team yet they couldn’t compete with the talent of Les Bleus, who netted their second consecutive victory in Pool A, 82-74.
Tony Parker finished with a game-high 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including a couple of 3-pointers. He executed the pick-and-roll effortlessly as he changed speeds, angles and contorted his body amidst the sea of Lithuanian big men. It was a methodical, searing attack on the Lithuanian defense, who appeared incapable of combating Parker’s speed. It was also, refreshingly, a glimpse of the Parker we saw in San Antonio this season.
At the half, Lithuania held a 43-39 advantage over French. Parker already had 13 points yet it was the Lithuanian bench — Martynas Pocius led the bench unit with 13 first-half points — that closed the gap in their favor. They outscored the French bench by 25 points, a not so subtle reminder to why Parker is so important.
It was a healthy combination of Parker, who continued to play well in the pick-and-roll, and Boris Diaw (10 points, eight assists and six rebounds) that parlayed their deficit into a seven-point lead at the end of the third period. The third leg of their “Big Three”, Nicolas Batum, was also creating havoc defensively in addition to scoring in transition.
When Parker received a brief rest at the beginning of the final frame, the lead didn’t dwindle. The lead stretched to 16 points after Nando De Colo converted on a mid-range jumper. Linas Kleiza, who struggled with foul trouble the entire night, poured in the majority of his 17 points in the quarter. It was an encouraging performance from Lithuania’s leading scorer that was generally inept, which can be partially attributed to Diaw’s fundamentally sound post defense.
The game, fittingly, was salted away after Parker knocked down a 16-foot jumper off the pick-and-roll. His final two points were gifted by an interesting decision to intentionally foul with 3.7 seconds left.
France’s fourth preliminary game will be against heavy underdog Tunisia this Saturday at 3:00 am CST.