Drowsy Dream Team Winning, not Wowing

ATLANTA -- Underwhelmed by the Dream Team? Get used to it.

"Beating teams by 50 to 60 points, those days are over," Charles Barkley said Wednesday after the United States shook off Lithuania early in the second half for a 104-82 victory.

It was the highest point total for the team of all-stars from the NBA in three games, but it also was the lowest margin of victory following a 28-point win over Argentina and a 33-point victory over Angola.

One other indicator of the game's closeness: Lithuania moved into a tie at 40-40 and trailed by only eight points at the half.

"We're still 30 points better than everyone else, and that's a lot," said Barkley. "I want to enjoy the Olympics and stop hearing all the criticism. The only thing we have to do is represent the U.S., play as hard as we can and win the gold medal."

Barkley isn't the only one who has grown tired of living up to the standard set by the 1992 team starring Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, which beat its opponents by an average of 43.8 points.

Normally mild-mannered Coach Lenny Wilkens, under pressure from his players to find a way to let them dominate, has grown increasingly frustrated. "Our society always wants controversy," he said. "No one is satisfied and that's why our country has so many problems. Sometimes these guys are just a little too unselfish."

The problem with unselfishness was evident against Lithuania, especially in the first half as the Americans slowed down after a strong start.

After opening leads of 17-12, 27-18 and 32-23, the United States scored only three baskets from the field over a stretch of 5 1/2 minutes. Lithuania tied the game at 40 on a 3-pointer by Tomas Pacenas with 3:06 left -- his first points of the Olympics.

Grant Hill and Miller made 3-pointers and Scottie Pippen had a steal and fastbreak dunk after that to help the Dream Team build its lead to 50-42 at the break.

The 100-point mark was finally reached with 1:11 left when Anfernee Hardaway made a free throw. The crowd, aware of the team's inability to reach the century mark in its first two games, let out a cheer.