Lakers 86, Hawks 78: Strong Second Half Keys Easy Laker Victory

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 14: Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots against the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center on February 14, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers used a strong 2nd half, including some rare and valuable bench contributions at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th quarters, to turn a close and ugly halftime contest into a blowout that was never in doubt in the final 24 minutes. Credit some combination of strong Laker defense and terrible Hawks offense, as the Hawks shot 34% from the field, and 26% from three point range on 27 attempts. The Lakers built their double digit lead on the foundation of a 10 point Hawks third quarter.

The easy Laker victory came in spite of a rough night for Kobe Bryant, who was 5-18 from the field and scored just 10 points, his lowest output since 2010. He also turned the ball over 5 times. Pau Gasol was very aggressive in taking 22 shots and pulling down 13 boards, but he lacked the efficiency which is normally his calling card in scoring just 20 points with those attempts. Andrew Bynum was the only Laker star who played at his peak, with 15 points on 10 shots, and 15 boards.

Normally, a good game, a decent game, and a bad game from the Lakers stars, respectively, would be an automatic loss, but the core was picked up by a strong team-wide performance from bros 4-9 on the roster. Metta World Peace scored 10 points on two dunks and two threes, and I can't decide which is the more unlikely occurrence. Andrew Goudelock continues to look like the most explosive Laker not being paid in the tens of millions, scoring 10 points on six shots and hitting a couple more in his increasingly ridiculous array of floaters, and Steve Blake, Troy Murphy and Matt Barnes all played well off the pine as well.

Also of note, because of the lack of free throws from both squads (despite a rather physical contest), tonight's game was one of the quickest of the season, clocking in at just over two hours.

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