The Lakers are coming off a 43-point and 24-point losses to the Golden State Warriors, and hoping to turn things around against the Atlanta Hawks. For both games against the Warriors, the Lakers starting lineup was decimated by injuries to D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young, and Julius Randle. Without three of their top players the Lakers offense and struggled to run fluidly and their defense has struggled. The Lakers hope that with Nick Young back in the lineup that their offense will return to normal and their depth advantage` will return. The Lakers will still be without D’Angelo Russell but have seen good play out of Jose Calderon.
The Atlanta Hawks have lost four of their last fives games. The Hawks were touted as one of the best defensive teams in the league when the Lakers handed them first loss of the season earlier this month, and since then, they have suffered losses to the New York Knicks, New Orleans Pelicans, Charlotte Hornets and Utah Jazz. Atlanta was only able to score 69 points against the Jazz and had not scored over hundred points since their win on November 16th against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Lakers backcourt will receive a boost with Nick Young returning from injury. Los Angeles was seen as a team without a “three and D” guy, but Nick Young has slid into that role by shooting 40% from behind the arc and being assigned to defend the other team’s top player. Young is, more importantly, a player that isn’t scared of the moment and provides a significant veteran presence for this young team.
Jordan Clarkson is another player that will need to step up if the Lakers hope to win this game. Clarkson is a consistent player for the Lakers, but his stats still show slight improvements in games the Lakers win. In wins, Clarkson scores 2.2 more points, passes 1.5 more assists, picks up 1.2 more rebounds and does it in 2.9 fewer minutes. With the Lakers losing their star perimeter player in D’Angelo Russell, Clarkson will have to shine a little brighter than normal.
The Hawks got a major contribution from Tim Hardaway Jr. in their previous matchup with the Lakers. Hardaway Jr. scored 26 points and shot five for seven from a distance. Hardaway Jr. did most of his damage in the first half, and the Lakers were still able to win the game despite his effort, but the Lakers will not have as much room for error with the injuries to Russell and Randle.
Kyle Korver only scored three points in the first meeting with the Lakers, but is averaging 9.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists so far this season, and is a threat to rifle off a barrage of threes at any time. The Lakers will want to keep him quiet if they want to win this game.
Dennis Schroder is averaging 14.3 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.1 rebounds. Schroder is a drive and dish type of guy, which works well with Dwight Howard setting screens and shooters at his disposal. Schroder will look to attack weaker defenders like Jose Calderon. Schroder is the player that is looked to when the Hawks need to get a bucket, so if the Lakers keep him in check they are in good shape.
The Lakers hope that having Timofey Mozgov against Atlanta will provide them a boost. In their first game against Atlanta, the Lakers started Ivica Zubac at center. While Zubac is already a fan favorite, Dwight Howard was able to take advantage of the rookie, scoring 31 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Mozgov will provide the Lakers with better rim protection and a better low post defender.
Thomas Robinson has seen more floor time with the injury to Julius Randle. Robinson was the 5th overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in 2012, but has bounced around the NBA since then. Robinson made the Lakers by the skin of his teeth this offseason and has barely seen playing time in these last few games. Robinson provides defense and rebounding to a team that needs a little bit of both. Look to see Robinson get some valuable minutes tonight against the Hawks.
Brandon Ingram is another player that has seen more playing time because of the Lakers injuries. Ingram has played a role in the Laker’s bench success early in the season but has seen time in the starting lineup that the last couple of games. Ingram’s defense has been superb all season, but he has been inconsistent on the offensive end. Let’s hope that Ingram can work through his rookie mistakes and have an efficient game tonight against the Hawks.
Dwight Howard has found himself in a perfect situation in Atlanta. Howard is averaging 14.1 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks, and finds himself as the face of the franchise, which something he has always wanted while playing with a team that preaches ball movement. Howard always seems to play well against Los Angeles, so hopefully, players like Mozgov and Robinson will give him problems
Kent Bazemore is another ex-Laker looking to get his revenge tonight. Bazemore had 11 points and six assists in his last matchup against the Lakers. Bazemore is averaging 10.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists this season. Bazemore is a good defender and will make the open shot if you leave him alone.
Keys to Victory:
Don’t Fall Asleep on Defense:
The Atlanta Hawks play some of the best team basketball in the league. The Hawks have multiple players that can get hot from the three-point line and have players that can get into the paint at will. The Lakers need to play with energy on the defensive side of the ball.
Push the Pace:
The Hawks are a team that would rather play in the half court. The Lakers need to use their depth and youth to their advantage by pushing the pace at every opportunity they get. If the Lakers score a lot of points with early offense and fast break opportunities that will be good news for Laker fans.
The Lakers only shot 35.6 percent against the Warriors in their last game and 22.7 percent from deep. Los Angeles has seen defensive improvements from Nick Young and Jordan Clarkson, but neither are going to make the Defensive All-NBA First Team. When they shoot poorly, it makes it hard for them to win, especially against well-coached teams like the Hawks.
Los Angeles Lakers (8-9) Vs. Atlanta Hawks (10-6)
6:30 P.M. PST, November 27, 2016
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Hawks Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Kyle Korver
SF: Kent Bazemore
PF: Paul Millsap
C: Dwight Howard
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Jose Calderon
SG: Nick Young
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Luol Deng
C: Timofey Mozgov