The Americans took the bronze-medal game seriously Saturday and earned some revenge in a 104-96 victory over Lithuania.
It was the first time since the 1992 Dream Team was established that an American team of NBA players didn't win the gold.
Argentina won the men's basketball gold medal Saturday by beating Italy 84-69.
Though they didn't get what they came to Athens for, the U.S. men didn't embarrass themselves in their finale.
"You want to win the whole thing, but you've got to cherish the fact that you were able to win something," Allen Iverson said. "You come all the way over here to Greece and then go home with nothing? That's a lot worse."
Defeating one of three teams that beat them earlier in the tournament, the Americans got 22 points from Shawn Marion, 15 from Iverson and 14 apiece from Lamar Odom and Stephon Marbury.
Just like their quarterfinal victory over Spain, the key factor was outside shooting. After missing all five of their 3-point attempts in the first half, the Americans made eight in the second half. Four came in a fourth quarter that the U.S. team closed by scoring 21 of the final 35 points.
The 104 points was the most by any team in the men's tournament, topping the 102 the U.S. team had against Spain two nights earlier.
"I think we ought to be real positive about them and what they did, the commitment they made and the sacrifice they made," United States coach Larry Brown said. "I said this before: This is the greatest time I ever had as a coach, and I don't know if I've ever been more proud of a group of people after tonight than this group. It has not been easy."
The start of the game was delayed 48 minutes after both teams arrived wearing white uniforms. It also included a second half that started with no coaches on the American bench, Brown emerging from the tunnel 50 seconds after play had started, his assistants beating him out by only 30 seconds.
"I could say I had acid reflux, but that happened last week," Brown said. "They changed the clock on us, and I've got two new hips. We were in a slow jog trying to get here."
Strange stuff, but not quite as weird as the Americans dropping three games after they had lost only two in the previous 68 years.
For the Lithuanian team, the defeat was their second in a row after they won their first six games. The loss denied them a fourth consecutive bronze medal.
They missed shots, threw the ball away and got beaten on defense. In the end though, Shannon Johnson and Tina Thompson helped the Americans pull out another gold-medal victory.
Johnson and Thompson gave the United States a huge lift with their second-half scoring, and the Americans beat Australia 74-63 on Saturday for their third straight Olympic women's basketball title.
The U.S. players finally got their game together after falling behind by four points in the second half. They turned up the defense, crashed the boards harder and, most important, found their shooting touch -- something.
Johnson, a 5-foot-7 guard who has been called Pee Wee since childhood, hit two baskets and sank four free throws to help the United States take the lead for good. Thompson hit a clutch 3-pointer to make it 66-57 with just under three minutes to play.
Fittingly, it was Dawn Staley, playing in her third and final Olympics, who put it out of reach, sinking two free throws with 1:37 left for a 70-59 lead. But the 34-year-old point guard wasn't finished.
She drove the lane and scooped in an underhanded layup with 32.1 seconds left and, with U.S. fans waving flags and chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A," she made two free throws to finish it off.
When the final buzzer sounded, Diana Taurasi, the youngest player on the team at 22, raced onto the court and lifted Staley, who is the oldest. They quickly were surrounded by their teammates and Staley, who had dribbled out the clock, never let go of the ball.
They huddled and held a U.S. flag over their heads like a tent, savoring the moment.
"This is incredible," Staley said. "I have to share this with some many people - people in the United States and Spain, people who come from humble beginnings, this gold medal is for them."
It also was the third gold for Lisa Leslie, who has played with Staley on U.S. teams for 16 years, and Sheryl Swoopes. Staley, Leslie and Swoopes led the resurgence in U.S. women's basketball internationally after bronze medal finishes in the 1992 Olympics and 1994 world championships.
It has been all gold ever since. On Saturday, they celebrated together for the final time. Staley, the head coach at Temple, has said she won't play anymore for U.S. teams. Leslie and Swoopes aren't sure of their plans.
Thompson finished with 18 points to lead the United States. Staley finished with 14, Leslie scored 13 and Johnson 12.
Russia today got its first Olympic medal in women's basketball in 12 years, beating Brazil 71-to-62 in the bronze medal game.
Track and Field
A sloppy handoff in the men's 400-meter relay forced the Americans to settle for silver, one hundredth of a second behind Britain.
U.S. anchor Maurice Greene took the baton in second place and with a burst of speed in the final 30 meters, made up some of the gap behind Britain's Mark Lewis-Francis - but just failed to catch him. The British won in 38.07 seconds, and the Americans won silver in 38.08. Nigeria took the bronze.
The U.S. relay was undermined by a poor handoff from its second runner, 100-meter gold medalist Justin Gatlin, to Coby Miller.
Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj became the first man in 80 years to win the 1,500 and 5,000 meters at one Olympics.
El Guerrouj passed Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia with about 50 meters left in the 5,000 and finished in 13 minutes, 14.39 seconds. Bekele, who was trying to become the first man in 24 years to win the 5,000 and 10,000 at an Olympics, finished second. Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, who led until the final lap, won bronze. The first man to win the 1,500 and 5,000 in an Olympics was Paavo Nurmi, who did it in 1924.
Kelly Holmes surged from behind to take the women's 1,500 meters gold and clinch a rare middle distance Olympic double. The Briton already won the 800 earlier this week.
In the final straight, Holmes kicked for home and easily beat Tatyana Tomashova of Russia and Maria Cioncan of Romania. Holmes finished in 3 minutes 57.90 seconds, holding a .22 second edge over Tomashova. Cioncan was third.
The United States swept the 1,600-meter relays after the men's team handily won gold in 2 minutes, 55.91 seconds. Otis Harris, Derrick Brew, Jeremy Wariner and Darold Williamson dominated while Australia took silver and Nigeria won bronze.
Earlier, the women's 1,600 relay team won in 3:19.01. The U.S. women's team of DeeDee Trotter, Monique Henderson, Sanya Richards and Monique Hennagan easily beat Russia, which took silver and Jamaica, which won bronze.
Yelena Slesarenko of Russia set an Olympic record while winning the gold medal in women's high jump. Slesarenko cleared 6 feet, 9 inches (2.06 meters). Hestrie Cloete of South Africa won the silver. Viktoriya Styopina of Ukraine got the bronze.
Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia relied on his trademark late kick to sweep by four competitors and win the 800 meters. South African Mbulaeni Tongai Mulaudzi won the silver. World record holder Wilson Kipketer of Denmark took the bronze.
Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway won the gold medal in javelin with a personal-best throw of 283 feet, 9 inches. Vadims Vasilevskis of Latvia won the silver and Sergey Makarov of Russia won the bronze.
Argentina won its first Olympic gold medal in soccer, beating Paraguay on Carlos Tevez's eighth goal of the tournament. Despite the loss, Paraguay captured its first medal in any sport. Italy won the bronze Friday, beating Iraq 1-0.
American Cael Sanderson won the gold medal in men's 185-pound freestyle, beating Moon Eui-jae of South Korea, 3-1. While at Iowa State, Sanderson became the only four-time unbeaten champion in NCAA history. Sazhid Sazhidov of Russia won the bronze.
Russia's Mavlet Batirov won the gold in men's 121-pound freestyle. He defeated Stephen Abas of Fresno, Calif., 9-1 in the final. Chikara Tanabe on Japan won the bronze.
Elbrus Tedeyev of Ukraine beat Jamill Kelly, of Stillwater, Okla., 5-1 to take the gold in 145-1/2 pound freestyle. Makhach Murtazaliev of Russia won the bronze.
Uzbekistan's Artur Taymazov knocked off Iran's Alireza Rezaei to win the gold in men's 264-1/2pound freestyle. Aydin Polatci of Turkey took the bronze.
Birgit Fischer settled for silver, leaving the 42-year-old Olympian with two medals in two days. The two-woman crew from Hungary overtook Fischer and her German partner in the second half of the 500-meter kayak race, ending her quest for a ninth gold medal. Natasa Janics and Katalin Kovacs won the gold. Poland got the bronze.
It was a remarkable performance by Janics, who won the 500-meter single kayak race only 70 minutes earlier. Janics, 22, wasn't even born when Fischer won the first of her eight gold medals in Moscow in 1980. Fischer got her fourth silver since she started competing.
In single kayak, Janics beat Josefa Idem of Italy, who finished second, and Caroline Brunet of Canada, who finished third.
Germany's Andreas Dittmer beat Spaniard David Cal by .34 seconds to win the 500-meter canoe event, while Russia's Maxim Opalev took bronze.
Canadian single kayaker Adam van Koeverden took his second medal of the game - this one a gold in the 500-meter final. He beat Australia's Nathan Baggaley by .55 seconds, with Britain's Ian Wynne taking bronze.
In the 500-meter pairs kayak, Germany's Ronald Rauhe and Tim Wieskoetter won handily. Australia ended up with the silver, .07 seconds ahead of Belarus, which took the bronze.
The Chinese canoe pair of Guanliang Meng and Wenjun Yang delivered a surprise victory in a race where five canoes crossed the line in a photo finish.
Julien Absalon, whose focus had been on Athens since failing to make France's Olympic team four years ago, pulled away in the second half of the mountain bike race and eased to victory in 2 hours, 15 minutes, 2 seconds. Jose Antonio Hermida of Spain finished second, exactly a minute behind Absalon. Bart Brentjens of the Netherlands, the world's top-ranked rider and 1996 Olympic champion, took the bronze.
It was the final cycling event of the Athens Games. Australia, with 10 medals, dominated the overall standings; Germany, with six medals, finished second; the United States won three medals, all in the road time trials on Aug. 18.
Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher of Austria won the gold medal in sailing's Tornado class. John Lovell and Charlie Ogeltree of the United States won the silver. Santiago Lange and Carlos Espinola of Argentina got the bronze.
In the Star class, Ross MacDonald and Mike Wolfs of Canada won the silver medal while, Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau of France got the bronze. Torben Grael and Marcelo Ferreira of Brazil clinched the gold on Thursday with one race remaining.
Ping Zhang led a determined rally past Russia with 25 points in the Olympic final. After dropping the first two sets, China came back to tie - staying a step ahead of the Russians in the final set. Yuehong Zhang ended it with a spike from the left side.
China's players began hugging and crying with joy on their side of the court, while a stunned Russia team sat on its bench in tears. This was China's first medal since a silver at Atlanta in 1996 and first gold since 1984.
A hard-hitting, high-jumping attack led by Nancy Carillo de la Paz and Zoila Barros Fernandez sparked the Cubans to an easy victory over Brazil in the bronze medal match.
Cuba won each of the last three Olympic championships, but several stars have since retired and the transition hasn't been entirely smooth.
American Steven Lopez won his second Olympic gold medal by defeating Bahri Tanrikulu of Turkey 3-0 in the under 80-kilogram final.
Lopez won gold in Sydney in 2000 at 68 kilograms, but has since switched weight classes. He won the world championship at 78 kilograms last year, and had to beat two other world champions to earn the gold. In the semifinals, Lopez faced Iran's Yossef Karami, who won the world title at 84 kilograms in 2003. Tanrikulu was champion in the same class in 2001. Karami took the bronze.
In the women's under 67-kilogram event, Luo Wei of China beat Elisavet Mystakidou of Greece, disappointing a raucous home crowd. Hwang Kyung-sun of South Korea won the bronze.
Women's Team Handball
Ukraine beat 2003 world champion France to win the bronze medal. Maryna Vergelyuk six goals on seven shots for Ukraine, while goalkeeper Nataliya Borysenko made 15 saves.
Spain and Hungary won classification games and will face each other for fifth place Sunday. Bojana Radulovics scored seven goals to lead Hungary past Pan American Games champion Brazil. China and Brazil will play for seventh.
Men's Team Handball
Spain, led by seven goals from Manuel Colon, beat South Korea to finish in seventh place. Yoon Kyung-shin scored seven for the Koreans.
Russia, the defending Olympic champion, won another gold in group rhythmic gymnastics, scoring 51.100 points to edge Italy and Bulgaria.
Eight teams of five women each vied for the championship. Each had two turns on the mat - one with five ribbons, the other with three hoops and two balls.
The Russians also won a bronze in 1996, the year group rhythmic was added to the games. Italy won its first Olympic medal in the sport. Bulgaria, which won silver at the Atlanta Olympics, returned to the medal stand after being shut out in 2000.
Thailand's Manus Boonjumnong pulled the biggest upset of Saturday's five gold medal bouts, using ring movement and speed to beat Yudel Johnson of Cuba 17-11 in a light welterweight bout. Two other Cubans, heavyweight Odlanier Solis and flyweight Yuriokis Gamboa, won their gold medal bouts.
Boonjumnong made sure the powerful Cuban team wouldn't tie its record of seven gold medals in Barcelona by beating Johnson in a tactical bout that had the Cuban team and its fans upset.
Gamboa promptly won the first Cuban gold of the games against Jerome Thomas of France. Thomas, who captured a bronze medal in Sydney, was aggressive but Gamboa was too fast for him inside, winning 38-23.
Solis, who replaced retired three-time Olympic champion Felix Savon as the Cuban heavyweight, beat Viktar Zuyev of Belarus in a lackluster 22-13 bout.
Two Russians also won golds. Alexei Tichtchenko beat Song Guk Kim of North Korea 39-17 at featherweight, while Gaydarbek Gaydarbekov beat Gennadiy Golovkin of Kazakhstan 28-18 in a middleweight bout.
Four more Cubans fight for gold medals Sunday when the final six weight classes are contested. Among them is the light heavyweight final, where American Andre Ward faces Magomed Aripgadjiev of Belarus.