The Los Angeles Lakers return home to host the Atlanta Hawks as they begin an eight-game home stand at Staples Center. The team is coming off an 117-107 loss in the Mile High City against the Denver Nuggets.
Although he didn’t start his rookie season the way many expected him to, D’Angelo Russell has finally turned a corner since being reinstated back into the starting lineup. Russell has taken advantage of his reinstatement as he’s averaged 21.8 points, shooting 52.3 percent from the field and 55.3 percent on three-pointers in the six games since being back. His most notable night came in Tuesday’s 107-101 win against the Brooklyn Nets as he finished with a career-high 39 points, including two of his eight total three-pointers in the final minute of the game to seal the win for Los Angeles.
The No. 2 pick of last year’s draft will have to bring his A-game tonight as the Lakers will be without Kobe Bryant, Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams. Bryant is still suffering from a sore right shoulder while Clarkson is dealing with a strained tendon in his left knee that occurred in the first half against Denver. With a depleted backcourt, expect Anthony Brown, Marcelo Huertas and Nick Young to continue playing heavy minutes against the Hawks.
Jeff Teague began the scoring with an easy layup on the first play of the game before D’Angelo Russell’s three gave the Lakers an early 3-2 lead. The three-point shooting Kyle Korver hit a three to get him on the board as Anthony Brown knocked down a 14-foot jumper off an assist from Russell. With the Lakers being limited offensively, the bigs were crashing the offensive glass early and it paid off as Roy Hibbert took one away from the Hawks and dished it to Julius Randle to take a 9-6 lead. Atlanta would go on a 6-0 run to regain the lead which caused the Lakers to take their first timeout. Randle came out of the huddle aggressive, starting with an easy runout dunk off a bad pass by Thabo Sefolosha which was followed up by two outside jumpers. Down 16-14 with 3:32 remaining, Paul Milsap scored seven straight points to regain the lead. The Hawks’ 10-0 run was ended by a Brandon Bass dunk off a sweet dime from Russell. At the end of the first, the Hawks led 26-19 as they shot 57.9 percent from the field in the quarter.
A nice cut by Marcelo Huertas began the scoring followed by another Bass dunk to trim the lead to three. The Hawks would capitalize off a Mike Scott three-pointer and a Dennis Schroder three-point play to give them a 31-25 lead three minutes into the quarter. The Lakers continued to crash the offensive glass as five rebounds would eventually lead to a Brandon Bass. Larry Nance Jr. got the crowd on it’s feet with another posterizing dunk this time against Al Horford. After both teams continued to exchange baskets, the Hawks led 39-32 with 4:20 remaining in the half. Julius Randle looked very comfortable shooting from the outside in the first half as he knocked down another mid-range jumper to move him into double-figures. Although the Lakers out-rebounded Atlanta 27-18, the Hawks finished the half on a 15-2 run to lead 54-36 at intermission.
Both teams started the half attacking the basket as free throws provided most of the scoring in the first four minutes. Nick Young hit a three-pointer to put him on the scoreboard off D’Angelo Russell’s fourth assist of the night. He added two more from the line before a Al Horford alley-oop gave Atlanta a 62-47 lead with 6:24 left in the quarter. After Russell knocked down a jumper, the Hawks would go on another small run to extend the lead to 20. Roy Hibbert and Randle would score on two straight possessions to end the run as Randle was nearing a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds. Similar to the first half, the teams continued to exchange baskets but the Lakers never got enough stops to cut the lead drastically. Atlanta’s hot shooting continued through the entire third as they ended the quarter shooting 52.0 percent and led 74-59.
The fourth quarter began by Marcelo Huertas shooting a technical free throw that was being reviewed during the break. Schroder didn’t seem to like that they called a technical on him, so on the next Hawks’ possession he drove the ball right at Huertas’ chest and scored on a layup. D’Angelo Russell, who came into the game scoring over 20 points in four consecutive games, had struggled all game but finally got a layup to go to give him seven points on 3-of-13 shooting. Kyle Korver continued to stay hot from three-point land, connecting on his fourth straight three-pointer to give the Hawks a 84-68 lead. Former Laker Kent Bazemore followed with a three of his own to move him to double-figures and extend the lead to 19. Randle finally snatched his 10th rebound with 5:15 left in the game to give him his 26th double-double of the season. The Hawks would continue to pour it on offensively as Tim Hardaway Jr. knocked down a three with 1:15 left to increase the lead to 30.
Final Score: Hawks 106, Lakers 77.