A season-high 33 points from Malik Monk including eight 3-pointers was not enough for the Lakers as they saw an 11-point lead heading into the fourth quarter evaporate in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon before falling 127-121. The Lakers are now a season-worst three games under .500 at 24-27.
Monk finished just three points off his career-high on the day and carried the load offensively for a Lakers team without LeBron James for the third straight game. Anthony Davis returned after missing Friday’s game in Charlotte and scored 27 points, most of those coming in the first half, while Russell Westbrook continued his strong run with 20 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds.
But defense was hard to come by on the day for both sides, particularly at the rim for the Lakers where the Hawks tallied 62 points in the paint on the day. The Lakers themselves started off the game red hot in the first half from the field offensively before cooling significantly in the second half, aside from Monk.
Without James for the final three contests, the Lakers battled hard in two of the three contests but ultimately head home from their six-game road trip with a 2-4 record. Only one of those contests saw the team have all three of James, Davis and Westbrook available.
The Lakers flew out of the gates offensively behind a number of looks at the rim, largely by Davis. The team made eight of their first 10 shots of the game with Davis scoring nine points as the purple and gold led 19-15 at the first TV timeout.
After building up a seven-point lead, a string of turnovers and missed shots at the rim led to the Hawks cutting the deficit back to a single point at 24-23. Defense never appeared in the first quarter as Davis and Malik Monk. combined for 22 points but the Lakers trailed 34-33 at the break. Combined, the two teams shot 28-45 (62.2%) from the field in the first period.
The second quarter was no different defensively as the two sides continued trading baskets with the Hawks opening up a four-point lead that they largely held for the opening four minutes of the frame. Talen Horton-Tucker had one of his best stretches in recent memory in the opening half of the period to keep the Lakers in the contest.
At last, some defensive stops by the Lakers, a technical foul on Trae Young and a 3-point play opportunity from Russell Westbrook combined to give the Lakers a lead once again at 59-56 with 2:48 to go in the half. A string of nine straight made field goals from the Lakers paired with a number of defensive stops opened up the lead to 68-60 before a Young layup stopped the run. But Monk responded with a 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer and send the Lakers into the locker room up 71-62, having shot 71.4% through the opening two quarters.
Atlanta began chipping away at the lead to open the second half, trimming down to six points in the opening minutes of the third. Anthony Davis picked up his fourth foul with 7:11 left in the 3rd as Clint Capela trimmed the lead down to 79-75, but head coach Frank Vogel rolled the dice and kept him in the game. But Young buried a 3-pointer on the next possession to make it a 79-78 Lakers lead midway through the quarter.
Atlanta’s run reached 12-0 after another Young 3-pointer out of the timeout, giving the Hawks a two-point lead. Monk finally stopped the run by responding with his own 3-pointer before the two teams began trading baskets and the lead. A Stanley Johnson-inspired 4-0 saw him put back an offensive rebound and finish off a steal by Davis with a 3-point play opportunity. Austin Reaves forced a timeout with a 3-pointer to put Los Angeles up 95-90.
Monk grabbed his 23rd and 24th points to push the lead to seven points and Reaves knocked down a pair of freebies to push it to nine. Carmelo Anthony’s layup through contract tied the Lakers biggest lead of the game at 11 as the margin stood at 101-91 after three quarters.
Again Monk stayed hot to open the fourth by burying his sixth 3-pointer of the game. An Okongwu alley-oop, a pair of Lou Williams freebies and a 3-pointer from Bogdan Bogdanovic quickly cut the deficit to four points, but Reaves stopped the run with a free throw to keep Los Angeles ahead 105-100.
Atlanta kept coming, though, and cut the lead to two points with a Young layup before taking the lead with a Williams 3-pointer at 107-106 with 7:26 left. As was the case for much of the game, the two sides began trading baskets before a Young 3-pointer and an Okongwu dunk moved Atlanta up four points at 114-110.
Monk stemmed the tide with his seventh 3-pointer by Atlanta answered with another dunk. After an Atlanta timeout, Johnson tied the game with a 3-pointer but Okongwu responded with a monster alley-oop again. Monk again tied the game with his eighth 3-pointer of the night.
Young delivered the death blow with a 3-pointer that went in-and-out-and-in to put Atlanta up four with under a minute left. The Lakers couldn’t scratch on the other end and free throws from the Hawks closed out the game.
Sunday was the final stop of the team’s six-game road trip as they return to Los Angeles for a four-game homestand, starting on Wednesday at the Trail Blazers. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT.