The Los Angeles Lakers look to end their horrific two-game slide and clinch the season series tonight against Dwight Howard and the Atlanta Hawks.
With D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle still sidelined for the time-being, Thomas Robinson and Jose Calderon get the call for the short-handed Lakers. The good news is that Nick Young will start tonight after missing Friday’s game against Golden State with that jammed toe.
The Lakers are sporting their Sunday whites as they pour out of the gates. Luol Deng gets the Lakers on the board with his first deuce of the night. Thomas Robinson finds himself at the free-throw line, going one of two.
A lob pass intended for Dwight ends up in the waiting hands of former Laker Kent Bazemore, who nails the corner 3. Atlanta’s up 9-3. Paul Millsap misses a turnaround jumper deep in the lane, but Thomas Robinson is unable to capitalize on the quick outlet.
As Dwight Howard absolutely demolishes the rim next time down the floor, Coach Walton decides he’s seen enough. With 7:27 left in the quarter, Lakers are trailing 15-10. A good screen from Mozgov enables Calderon to bring the Lakers to within 3, but those three points are quickly snatched back by the Hawks.
Thomas Robinson throws it down on a slick pass from Calderon, but Dwight Howard’s hot start continues. His bank shot from the corner top of the key is good. The Lakers turn over the ball next possession, forcing Nick Young into fouling the galloping Dwight Howard to save an easy bucket. Dwight goes one for two, which is about his average.
Louis Williams enters the game and turns over the ball just as quickly. Kyle Korver nails a three immediately after. Williams is fouled doing what he does best- floating down the lane. He’s perfect from the line. Lakers down 26-16, timeout, Luke Walton with under 3 minutes to go.
Ingram’s first shot is missed, Muscala fires back with a three from the top of the key. Tarik Black is fouled by Muscala as he goes up for the rim-rattler, he’s one of two from the line. His next shot, a floater in the lane, is missed and recovered by Clarkson. However, an offensive foul on Larry Nance Jr. leads to yet another three from the boiling Muscala. 32-19, Atlanta.
Brandon Ingram somehow manages to dribble himself in too deep, finding himself surrounded by dark jerseys. He’s called for an offensive foul, and the Lakers trail 32-21 at the end of the first.
Millsap opens up the quarter with a missed three. A lob from William to Nance pulls the Lakers to within 9. Louis Williams splits not one, but two defenders for the and-one, bringing the Lakers back within 6. Black’s shot is missed, but it’s tipped up and in by Larry Nance! Lakers down by 4, timeout Atlanta.
Lakers continue to play well during the second quarter. With 5:23 to go, Lakers have their first lead at 43-38! Bazemore fouls Nick Young as he spots up for the three, both nailing the shot and free-throw. Lakers up 47-40. Tarik’s left-hand hook is off, courtesy of solid defense from Howard. Dennis Schroder’s shot is blocked by Tarik, and Young capitalizes with the three. However, Millsap quickly answers back. Timeout, Lakers.
Schroder fails to get around Nance and the Lakers get a stop. Nick Young, at the top of the key, manages to lose his defender with the old ball-fake. and hits a three in rhythm. With 0.2 seconds left on the shot clock, Clarkson manages to throw one up and throw one in. Everything’s going for the Lakers at this point. 30 seconds left in the half, the two for one opportunity is soiled by a missed three and a fumbled pass. Kent Bazemore nails a three to end the half. Lakers up 55-48 heading into the third.
A Clarkson shot late in the 2nd quarter was reviewed at halftime and changed to a three-pointer, increasing the Lakers lead to eight before the teams even took the floor.
The Lakers offense struggled early, but the defense kept the Hawks at bay. Eventually Calderon and Robinson were able to get things going with a couple of baskets right as Bazemore began heating up again for Atlanta.
Luke Walton would eventually go to his bench as Nance immmediately made an impact with a tip-in. Kyle Korver hit a three, but Clarkson would respond with five straight points for the Lakers to keep them ahead by eight.
Williams checked in and hit a three-pointer, but after a bucket from Millsap, Williams was lazy handling the ball as Schroder swiped it from him and eventually found Muscala for a bucket to end the quarter. The Lakers still held an 84-77 lead going into the fourth.
Lou Williams and the second unit opened up the fourth for the Lakers. Paul Millsap’s shot in the lane is good, Atlanta trails the Lakers 86-79. Bazemore drained yet another three, giving him a game-high of 21 points.
The Hawks would cut the lead down to four points as Bazemore was on fire, but Williams got the game back under control by drawing fouls on consecutive possessions leading to five free throws and he knocked down all five.
Once the Lakers had a cushion, they continued to push out the lead out of reach as the bench continued its stellar play. Nance, Clarkson, and Williams all had big buckets and the work of Tarik Black on the glass gave the Lakers multiple chances. All in all, the Lakers went on a 16-2 run to put things out of reach.
The Hawks would empty their bench not long afterwards as former Laker Ryan Kelly saw his first action of the game. Nance would collect a double-double down the stretch and everything was academic from there as the Lakers would return to .500 by sweeping the season series from the Hawks.
Final Score: Lakers – 109, Atlanta – 94