Lakers Ground Hawks in Balanced Victory

It wasn’t a very high scoring affair, but the game last night between the Los Angeles Lakers (16-12) and Atlanta Hawks (18-11) was still an exciting one, at least for Lakers fans. In their first game back at Staples Center after their annual “Grammy trip,” the Lakers defeated the Hawks 86-78 last night in a balanced effort.

The Lakers led at halftime, 42-41, after a last second, double-hesitation three-pointer by Metta World Peace (yes, we made up “double-hesitation” just for Metta), and never looked back.

Although the score wasn’t very high, the Lakers seemed to gain energy through various defensive plays, a more free flowing offense, and the play of Pau Gasol.

Gasol led the Lakers with 20 points (9-22 shooting), 13 rebounds (eight offensive), and four blocked shots. His front court mate, Andrew Bynum, had 15 points (7-10 shooting), 15 rebounds (four offensive), and two blocked shots. Kobe Bryant struggled from the field (10 points on just 5-18 shooting with four rebounds,  and four assists), and the “Mini-Mamba,” Andrew Goudelock also had 10 points, but on a much better shooting percentage (4-6 from the field overall, with 2-2 from three-point range).

Not a fan of stats, Metta decided to prove to everyone that he can have solid numbers, and he did, as he finished with 10 points on four-of-seven shooting, including two three-pointers. He seemed to be sparked by the three-pointer mentioned above. He even had two nice dunks; the first a double-handed dunk in transition, and the second a thunderous right-handed slam after crossing over Vladimir Radmanovic. He attributed the dunks to changing his shoes before the game from high-top sneakers to low-top ones.

Matt Barnes scored seven points and pulled down five rebounds, but his hustle won’t show up in the stat sheet. Barnes’ relentless energy and active play were huge positives for the Lakers in last night’s victory.

Troy Murphy (six points, four assists, three rebounds) and Steve Blake (five points, six assists, three rebounds) also had solid performances as well, in roughly 30 minutes of play apiece. Meanwhile, starting point guard Derek Fisher (three points, three rebounds, three assists) got to take it easy with just 18 minutes of play.

As for the Hawks, they were led by Jeff Teague, who managed 18 points. Joe Johnson (five assists, three rebounds), and Josh Smith (nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks, two steals) had 15 points apiece. Former Laker (and unprofessional snowboarder) Vladimir Radmanovic had nine points (3-6 from three) and six rebounds as Willie Green was the next highest scorer with six.

Tracy McGrady and Kirk Hinrich had five points apiece, while Marvin Williams had just four. The Lakers’ big men disrupted Hawks’ center Zaza Pachulia, as he managed just one point on 0-2 shooting, while grabbing nine rebounds and garnering four steals.

Now, let’s discuss what to take away from the victory.

Next Page: The Breakdown

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