Olympic Basketball 2012: Test Against Lithuania Came at the Right Time for USA

Alex HallCorrespondent IIIAugust 5, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04:  (EDITORS NOTE: A polarizing filter was used for this image.) Lebron James #6 of United States puts up a shot against Lithuania during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on August 4, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

While Team USA fans would love to see their group of NBA All-Stars blowout every team on the way to a gold medal, the recently close call against Lithuania is actually a good thing, believe it or not.

LeBron James and company headed into their game against the Lithuanians after outright destroying Nigeria in a performance some are calling the best in basketball history.

With that kind of hype added to an already publicized team, perhaps Team USA entered its Day 8 game expecting another blowout.

Lithuania refused to become another speed bump on Team USA's pursuit of a gold medal, finishing with 94 points against the Americans who finished with 99.

Led by captain Lina Kleiza, three of Lithuania's players were able to score double-digits on the collection of NBA players. Kleiza, an NBA player in his own right, had 25 points in the game.

The Toronto Raptor's national team actually finished with a better free throw, three point and field goal percentage than their victorious opponents.

While the U.S. did pull out the victory, it was one it had to earn considering the game was as close as 78-72 at the end of the third quarter. This close call is one that will benefit the Americans however, as they now realize they are not simply going to have a cake walk on the way to the gold medal.

Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant were held to just 13 points combined over a total 50 minutes on the court, showing that this offense can be slowed down if the stars align for Team USA's opposition.

There's an old saying that goes something like "you learn more from when you lose, than when you win." That phrase has been around as long as it has because its message is true. A helpful dish of humble pie is never a bad thing when you're dealing with this many high-profile players on one team.

The team hasn't really had to flex its muscles throughout the Olympic Games so far considering the Americans held a 162-point differential heading into the Lithuania bout. To put that in perspective, Argentina is came into Day 8 with the second-best point differential with 39.

Team USA will learn from the mistakes that led to Lithuania's near-victory and the humbling experience helps the Americans more than another blowout would have.