The Dream Team stuck to its modus operandi: underwhelming in the first half, dominant in the second, victorious in the end.
The pattern was on display for the third straight game Wednesday night against Lithuania, which stayed close for 23 minutes despite the absence of Sarunas Marciulionis and the extended playing time given to its scrubs.
But the Americans pulled away and had their highest point total of the tournament in a 104-82 victory, but once again their mistakes were exploited and their victory margin was lower than expected.
Charles Barkley scored 16 points, Reggie Miller and Karl Malone had 14 each and Shaquille O'Neal added several monster dunks in the final 10 minutes after sitting out the first half.
In other games, Shane Heal made a four-point play to start the second overtime and scored 13 of Australia's final 17 points in a 109-101 win over Brazil; Croatia shook off an ugly first half and crushed Angola 71-48 behind Dino Radja's game-high 20 points; Predrag Danilovic scored 19 points in leading Yugoslavia over South Korea 118-65; and China defeated Argentina 87-77.
Heal finished with 35 points, shooting 8-for-15 from three-point range. Andrew Gaze added 28 points.
"Shane was clearly our hero tonight," Gaze said.
Brazilian star Oscar Schmidt scored 19 points in the first half, five in the second and none in 10 minutes of overtime.
The Brazilians were furious over what coach Ari Vidal called "one-sided" refereeing. Australia had 38 free throws and Brazil 18.
"I had not one free throw in the whole game," said Schmidt, who is 38 and playing in his fifth Olympics. "I've never seen it in my life."
The medal-contending Croatians shot 27 percent in the first half and led by just 26-23 after falling behind by as many as 10 points midway through.
Croatian swingman Toni Kukoc of the Chicago Bulls got 12 of his 16 points and five of his six assists in the second half.
The Yugoslavs, sprinkled with NBA players and prospects, had six scorers in double figures and were never extended, leading by 29 points at halftime.
The Yugoslavs were asked whether they wished they had a preliminary-round tuneup against the U.S. team, which is in Group A.
"I think it's okay," Danilovic said. "We hope to play them in the finals."