Key Reserves: Jamal Crawford, Zaza Pachulia, Josh Powell
The Lakers (45-19) are in Atlanta to take on the Hawks (37-26) in the second game of their four game road trip. After handily dispatching the Spurs on Sunday afternoon in San Antonio there is no question the Lakers are hotter than ever. However, in order to defeat the Hawks and extend their winning streak to eight they will have to make sure they keep their foot on the pedal.
After the Lakers stumbled into the All-Star break many questioned whether or not they had what it takes to win another championship. Los Angeles was able to get back on track on February 22 against the Hawks in L.A., where they defeated Atlanta 104-80. Since then the Lakers are undefeated, rallying off impressive victories against some of the top teams in the Western Conference. However, after being embarrassed on the road there is no doubt the Hawks will be looking to get revenge tonight in Atlanta.
Keys to Victory:
Control the Paint – The Lakers have a distinct size advantage over the Atlanta frontcourt. The recent play of Andrew Bynum has been All-Star caliber, but he is up against one of the toughest centers in the league – Al Horford. If Bynum and the other Laker big men can play a solid game they should be able to neutralize Horford and the rest of Atlanta’s front line.
Limit Turnovers – One of the keys to the recent winning streak for the Lakers has been their ability to control the ball. Against one of the top teams in the league on Sunday Los Angeles only gave the ball up six times. If they can limit turnovers again tonight they will be able to leave Atlanta with a victory.
Limit Joe Johnson – The Atlanta offense is built around Johnson, who averages 19.1 points per game. If the Lakers can control his offensive output it will force the Hawks to find offense elsewhere.