The Los Angeles Lakers will look to head into the All-Star Break with a win as their six-game road trip concludes with a matchup against the young and hungry Atlanta Hawks.
The Lakers defeated the Hawks in the first meeting, mostly remembered for Tyson Chandler clinching the victory with a block at the buzzer in his debut with the team.
Both teams are much different from that first meeting and though the Hawks won’t be making a playoff run, they have been feisty with wins over teams such as the Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia Sixers in the past month. Currently on a three-game losing streak, Atlanta would love to end that before All-Star Weekend.
Atlanta is led by a pair of young talents in point guard Trae Young and forward John Collins. Collins is nearly averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds in just his second season, and while Young has struggled with consistency, he is still posting impressive numbers for a rookie at almost 17 points and over seven assists per game.
Defense will be important for the Lakers as their calling card from earlier this season has slipped significantly recently. Some of that can be attributed to the loss of Lonzo Ball.
Fellow defensive playmaker Josh Hart is out as he deals with knee tendinitis. So Brandon Ingram, Rajon Rondo and newly-acquired Reggie Bullock will be counted on to set the tone on that end.
Of course things for the Lakers begin as always with LeBron James and he may need to come out with a purpose. With a team like the Hawks it is important to not let them linger around. James has begun looking closer to his normal self and he has had games where he put the team on his back from the beginning.
Kyle Kuzma has also been on a tear recently, scoring 39 points against the Philadelphia 76ers. Keeping up his scoring while also dealing with Collins on the other end will be a big challenge.
It will be interesting to see how Lakers head coach Luke Walton handles his rotations. Lance Stephenson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bullock will all be looking for minutes on the wing with Ingram also taking up those as well. Likewise, the addition of Mike Muscala could lead eat into playing time for Chandler and JaVale McGee.
Though, Chandler is out because of a toe sprain. Muscala was questionable because of a sprained ankle but is available to play.
Overall this is a game that the Lakers should be able to win. The Hawks are dead last in the league in turnovers and points off turnovers allowed, as well as fastbreak points allowed. They are also near the bottom of the league in rebounding and points in the paint allowed.
Additionally, the Hawks play at the fastest pace in the league which should work right into the Lakers’ hands. If the Lakers lock in defensively, they should be able to put the Hawks away.
If they aren’t focused, however, the Hawks have players who can get hot and make this a long night. The Lakers are known for letting role players have big nights so if someone like Kevin Huerter, Taurean Prince or DeAndre Bembry get going, it’s a bad sign.
Los Angeles Lakers (28-28) @ Atlanta Hawks (18-38)
4:30 P.M. PT, Feb. 12, 2019
Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Reggie Bullock
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson, Mike Muscala
Projected Hawks Starting Lineup:
PG: Trae Young
SG: Kevin Huerter
SF: Taurean Prince
PF: John Collins
C: Dewayne Dedmon
Key Reserves: DeAndre Bembry, Vince Carter, Omari Spellman, Kent Bazemore
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