It was Germany's Heike Drechsler that shattered Jones' dream of a record-breaking five golds when she won the women's Olympic long jump title by just three inches.
Jones stepped over the foul line on four of her six attempts in the finals. The better of her two legal jumps covered 22 feet, 8 1/4 inches.
Nobody came close to Jones in either the 100 or 200 meter races, her first two. But the long jump is her weakest event. Her style has often been criticized for relying too much on pure speed, not enough on good form, and on a hot night Jones failed to deliver one of her occasional amazing jumps.
No female athlete has won five track golds in an entire career.
Drechsler hugged Jones, and then danced with a German flag. Italian Fiona May finished second.
"I don't regret at all saying I was going to go for five," Jones said. "I had a shot, and it just didn't pan out."
Jones will still compete in the 400- and 1,600-meter relay finals Saturday, but golds are not assured in those events, either.
World-class sprinters Gail Devers and Inger Miller each withdrew from the 400 earlier Friday because of hamstring injuries.
Jones was able to rest for the long jump event while her healthy teammates won their 400 relay heat. Also advancing were top rivals from Jamaica and the Bahamas; Australia was ousted due to a dropped baton.
The United States, which has not lost in Olympic competition since it began sending NBA players to the competition in 1992, jumped out to a 12-point halftime lead but Lithuania stormed back in the second half.
Trailing by one point with 10.8 seconds left, Lithuania fouled Phoenix Suns all-star Jason Kidd who hit only one of two foul shots to give Lithuania one last chance.
Lithuanian guard Sarunas Jasikevicius had an open three-point shot at the buzzer, but it fell far short.
The two-point margin of victory was the narrowest for the United States in the Olympics since the semifinal in 1988, when it lost to the former Soviet Union.
The loss helped prompt the NBA to begin supplying professionals to the Olympics.
The United States will play France in the final on Sunday. Earlier in the day France shocked Australia 76-52.
The United States stayed out front in the medal count Thursday with 79 (33 gold, 19 silver, 27 bronze) to Russia's 61 (20-19-22) and China's 56 (26-15-15).
For the second time in the Olympic tournament, South Korea played the U.S. women tough. For the second time, the Americans won anyway.
Natalie Williams' strng inside play helped the United States pull away from the Koreans in the second half and win the semifinal game 78-65. The Americans led by two points with less than 14 minutes to play.
The U.S. team had defeated the feisty Koreans 89-75 in a preliminary round game.
Australia beat Brazil 64-52 in the other semifinal and plays the United States in Saturday's final.
After reaching the semifinals, the U.S. men dropped two straight, including Friday's 2-0 loss to Chile in the bronze medal game.
Chilean striker Ivan Zamorano scored on a penalty kick in the 70th minute, then sealed the win with another goal in the 84th minute.
Morocco's Hicham el Guerrouj came into the Sydney Games desperate to erase his bitter memories of the 1,500 at the Atlanta Games. There, he got tangled up with eventual gold medalist Noureddine Morceli of Algeria and finished last.
This time, Kenya's Noah Ngeny just out-kicked el Guerrouj down the stretch. Ngeny finished in an Olympic record: three minutes, 32.07 seconds. El Guerrouj was second. He sat with his head down while Ngeny celebrated with Bernard Lagat, the bronze winner and a fellow Kenyan.
There was an American double in the men's pole vault. Nick Hysong captured the gold with a vault of 19 feet, 4 1/4 inches. U.S. teammate Lawrence Johnson won the silver and Maxim Tarasov of Russia took the bronze.
Poland's Robert Korzeniowski strolled to his second gold medal, winning the men's 50-kilometer walk in 3 hours, 42 minutes, 22 seconds on a hot Sydney morning. Korzeniowski already won the 20 kilometer walk.
Ricardo Williams Jr. edged out Cuban Diogenes Luna 42-41 in the semifinals of the 139-pound division, while 125 pound Rocky Juarez defeated Kamil Dzamalutdinov of Russia and also made Sunday's finals.
Jermain Taylor will settle for a bronze after losing his semifinal fight to Yermakhan Ibraimov of Kazakhstan on the 15-point rule. All semifinalists get a bronze medal in boxing.
The head of USA track and field, Craig Masback, trie to put accusations that the United States suppresses positive drug tests to rest. He said America's governing body for track should hand over its entire doping control program to an independent, international group.
Another official at the center of a drug controversy said he would resign his post. Romanian Olympic Committee president Ion Tiriac said he would quit in "two or three weeks" in the wake of the Andreea Raducan case.
The International Olympic Committee stripped Raducan of her gold medal in women's all-around gymnastics because she tested positive for a stimulant that was in an over-the-counter cold medicine she took. Romanians argued the gymnast was just following her doctor's orders.
Juan Antonio Samaranch said he's likely to bestow his highest compliment on the Sydney Olympics at the closing ceremony Sunday. He did not say the same thing about Atlanta four years ago.
"Something could still happen before Sunday. But if I had to close the games today, I would say: 'Best games ever,'" Samaranch told the Frankfurter Allgemeine, a German newspaper.
Samaranch last gave the distinction "best ever" to the Olympics when they were held in his native Barcelona eight years ago.