Looking to turn the page from a disappointing NBA Finals defeat to the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers regrouped and entered the 2008-09 season with further championship aspirations.
On Feb. 17, 2008, the Lakers looked to get back into the win column with a challenging home matchup against one of the better Eastern Conference contenders in the Atlanta Hawks.
After one quarter, the Lakers found themselves trailing by a point. But the group would bounce back in the ensuing quarter and outscore the Hawks by 10 points — entering halftime with a nine-point cushion.
The Lakers’ scoring attack would get the best of the Hawks in the third quarter. They dropped 40 points and extended their lead to 25 entering the final 12 minutes of play.
With a big lead, Los Angeles rested most of their starters in the fourth quarter. While Atlanta would chip away at the deficit, the Lakers still came out victorious by a final score of 96-83.
Pau Gasol stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in 31 minutes of playing time. In addition to his triple-double, Gasol sported a game-high +24 plus-minus on the night and didn’t commit a turnover.
Lamar Odom completed the Lakers’ offense with 15 points and 20 rebounds in nearly 34 minutes. He added two steals and two blocks on the defensive end, and converted six of his 11 field goal attempts.
Leading the way for the Hawks was Joe Johnson, who scored a team-high 14 points in 30 minutes. Like most of his teammates, he struggled with his shot and sunk just six of his 17 opportunities.
Marvin Williams added 13 of his own points, while Josh Smith contributed 10. Otherwise, the rest of the Hawks’ unit didn’t reach double-digits in scoring.
For the Lakers, the victory would be their first of six in a row. They improved to a Western Conference-best 43-10 on the year while the Hawks fell to 31-22 after the loss.
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