When the Lakers last played the Hawks, the team emerged victorious in Nick Young's triumphant return to the lineup. Kobe Bryant scored 28 points, leaving some wondering if the team would play its way to mediocrity with a healthy roster.
Needless to say, that did not come to pass. Bryant and Young both missed Sunday's rematch, and while the Hawks were missing key players of their own in Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Teague, they were able to defeat the Lakers 91-86.
Hawks games have been the source of much awe among the NBA watching community for the beauty of the offense involved. The Lakers seemed determined to do the exact opposite of that in the first quarter, scoring only 6 points in the first 6 minutes, and missing 12 straight field goal attempts at one point. A Jeremy Lin led end of quarter run helped, but the team only shot 27.3% in the first frame, with the Hawks 40.9% looking dominant in comparison.
The Lakers began the second quarter on an 11-2 run to tie the game at 25 after trailing 23-14. Adding injury to insult for the Hawks was Kyle Korver leaving the game for the night midway through the second with a broken nose.
After missing his previous 13 shots, Ryan Kelly got going a little bit for the Lakers in the first half, sinking 3 of his first 7 attempts, easily the best 12 minutes he has played in a while. Jordan Clarkson recovered from a shaky start, drawing a few free throws and then hitting this circus attempt to end the half with the Lakers only trailing 41-38 despite shooting just 31.1% from the field and 28.6% from behind the arc.
Turnovers finally started to hurt the Lakers in the third quarter, with 7 giveaways in the period leading to Atlanta leading 68-58 after 3. Jabari Brown went 3-3 in the first half and made his first 4 shots overall, but finally missed on his 5th attempt in the third to exemplify the Lakers' scoring struggles.
A late run led by Jordan Clarkson's basket and then assist on an Ed Davis dunk was followed by a Ryan Kelly missed layup, but after Al Horford missed one of two free throws, Wayne Ellington hit a three pointer after 3 Lakers offensive rebounds to bring the Lakers within 2, 85-83 with 30 seconds left. On the next possession, Dennis Schroder (career high 24 points and 10 assists), starting in place of Teague, used nearly 20 seconds before driving in for an acrobatic layup to push the Hawks ahead 87-83 with 13.9 seconds left to play. For some reason, the next play was a Wesley Johnson fade-away corner three, and the Hawks were able to hang on to win 91-86 even after a meaningless late Kelly three pointer.
New call up Brown's 9 points on 5 shots were one of the few positives on the night for the Lakers, who shot only 40% from the field as a team and turned the ball over 21 times. Jordan Clarkson had a second straight rough outing, needing 13 shots to score his 10 points, but he did manage to dish 6 assists and grab 8 rebounds (4 offensive) while continuing to demonstrate his nose for the glass.
The Lakers will travel to Golden State to face the league leading Golden State Warriors Monday night, and things could get ugly.