Completing a back-to-back for a second time in as many weekends, the Los Angeles Lakers were not sharp early, managed to create separation in the third quarter and ultimately escaped with a 107-106 victory over the Atlanta Hawks that moved them over .500 for the first time this season.
Additionally, the Lakers extended their winning streak to three games, picked up a fifth win in the last six, and have now defeated the Hawks five in a row. LeBron James led all scorers with 26 points.
He got off to a hot start, scoring eight points in the first quarter. James was assisted by Josh Hart also scoring eight points in the first, with the bulk of his damage coming behind the arc. Hart’s activity netted him a steal, giving him at least one in all 13 games this season.
While the Lakers outshot the Hawks, they went into halftime trailing 53-52, in large part to their 15 turnovers that led to 19 points, James again asserted himself in the third quarter. He had 10 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in the period, and the Lakers also received key contributions from Lonzo Ball.
A lead that grew to as many as 15 points was cut into early in the fourth quarter, though the Hawks’ rally was initially held off by 3-pointers from Lance Stephenson.
Trae Young’s 3-pointer cut the Lakers’ lead to two points, which prompted head coach Luke Walton to call a timeout so Ball, Brandon Ingram and James could be reinserted. The teams traded baskets until an empty possession for the Lakers was followed by Alex Len’s slam dunk giving the Hawks a 99-98 lead with 5:25 remaining.
Kyle Kuzma’s layup tied the game and his free throw on an ensuing technical foul gave the Lakers a lead with less than two minutes remaining. That was short-lived, however, as Vince Carter’s slam dunk on a defensive breakdown gave the Hawks a lead.
James forced the issue and got the line, where he missed both free throws but atoned for it as the Lakers secured an offensive rebound and though Kuzma missed the put-back, James was there to flush down what proved to be a game-winning dunk on the rebound.
The win was punctuated by Tyson Chandler blocking Young’s teardrop attempt as the buzzer sounded.