The Lakers fell to the Hawks 138-122 in one of their worst defensive performances of the season for the purple and gold. Anthony Davis was out and his impact was felt as the Hawks got whatever they wanted inside the paint.
Not many highlights on the Lakers’ side.
LeBron James ended the game with 20 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. D’Angelo Russell, who has been heavily linked to a potential trade for Dejounte Murray, struggled throughout the night, scoring nine points on 3-11 shooting. Murray shined on the other side with 24 points on 11-19 shooting — 10 of those in the fourth quarter — with nine assists.
Austin Reaves led the game in scoring with 28 points, overcoming a slow start to finish 10-19 from the field overall. Jarred Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura provided nice sparks off the bench, finishing with 12 and 16 points, respectively.
Los Angeles is now 1-2 on this road trip.
With Davis out the Lakers started not just a new starting lineup but a five-man unit that’s never played together. Jaxson Hayes joined Austin Reaves, LeBron James, Taurean Prince and Russell to open up the action against the Hawks. The lineup held their own in the opening minutes, keeping the game even at 12.
Jarred Vanderbilt, the Lakers' most loved bench player, was the first sub and the game continued as a back-and-forth, defense-optional extravaganza in the first.
The Lakers trailed by seven entering the second and went on a brief 6-3 run to start the quarter but quickly gave it away with poor rotations to corner shooters and a couple of defensive miscues from Rui Hachimura and Hayes.
After the Hawks got a dunk to push their lead to 17 early in the third quarter, the Lakers call timeout and a couple of L.A.'s players are showing Jaxson Hayes the proper defensive positioning of where he should be protecting the paint— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 31, 2024
The second half was more of the same, with Hayes unable to protect the rim at any capacity and Atlanta’s confidence continued to grow. They racked up 36 points in the third, and for this second game in a row, the Lakers were losing in blowout fashion on the road.
The Lakers cut the lead down to 12, but the Hawks countered with a 7-4 run to close out the quarter and, for all intents and purposes, finished the Lakers.
James started the fourth and the Lakers went on a 5-0 run to start the final frame. The Lakers got within 10 points on multiple occasions in the quarter but never threatened to win as Atlanta cruised to victory.
No Davis, no response from this team. Yes, it was a back-to-back game, but that was a gutless performance that cannot be excused.
The only positive from this game is that it’s over. Unfortunately, they have their biggest rival the Boston Celtics next and with how well Boston is playing and how poor L.A. is performing things could get even uglier on Thursday
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.