On the heels of a monster first half, the Lakers were able to hold off a third-quarter run from the Hawks to pick up yet another win. Moving to 11-2 and into sole ownership of the best record in the NBA, the Lakers are off to their best start since the 2010-11 season. LeBron James led the way once again for the Lakers as the “Washed King” continued his spectacular revenge tour on the NBA.
Lakers vs. Hawks Score & Result
Lakers Win – 122-101
Now into the good, the bad, and the ugly…
The Good From the Lakers’ Win Over the Hawks
On a night where Anthony Davis didn’t have it offensively, LeBron James stepped up and had a huge game when the Lakers needed him most. The catalyst to the Lakers’ huge first-half as well as the driving force facilitating the basketball down the stretch as the Lakers closed things out, James had a masterful performance over the young Hawks. While he fell just short of yet another triple-double, James led the Lakers in scoring and finished the night with 33 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and a block.
In his 17th year playing professional basketball, even if James has lost a step it has become exceedingly apparent he is still one of – if not the best all-around player in the league.
The Lakers’ big men did a fantastic job of patrolling the paint tonight, picking up a season-high 14 blocks. Between JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard, and Anthony Davis, the Lakers made the inexperienced and undersized Hawks pay whenever their shots weren’t falling. Forcing the Hawks into a one-dimensional offense for the bulk of the game, the blocks did more than just look pretty on the stat sheet.
The defense is still learning to play with one another and seeing how they can put together this kind of night in only their 13th game should inspire even more fear in the rest of the NBA.
Also, Dwight Howard is simply the best. It feels like a cop-out putting him as his own category under “good” every single game but I couldn’t not praise his nine-rebound, three-block performance off the bench and figured that the “block party” category was the best place to tip the hat.
The First Half
Behind stellar rim protection in the form of seven blocks in the first quarter alone, the Lakers smothered the Hawks while gauging them in transition. Considering how bad the Lakers have been starting games so far, getting out to a 14-2 run to kick things off was a nice change of pace. While the second unit struggled a bit down the stretch, the Lakers still outscored the Hawks 36-24.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope continued his hot streak from last game, going five of six in the first quarter en route to 10 points in the Lakers’ early flurry. While the sample size is small, it seems the vocal support of his teammates may be finally helping get KCP back on track.
After his notoriously bad offensive start, KCP finally seems to be finding his rhythm once again. After a big night against the Kings playing second fiddle to LeBron, KCP once again found himself in the starting lineup and delivered some big minutes on both sides of the basketball.
With another excellent night shooting the basketball, Caldwell-Pope might be finally turning a corner and getting back to his “Three and D” ways that have kept the Lakers continually re-signing him over the past three seasons. KCP finished the night with 13 points on six of eight shooting.
The Bad From the Lakers’ Win Over the Hawks
The Third Quarter
Everything the Lakers did well in the first quarter, they didn’t do well in the third quarter. Allowing the Hawks to repeatedly get out and beat them in transition while going quiet for long stretches of time on offense, the Lakers nearly blew a 28 point first-half lead – getting outscored 36-27.
The Lakers looked to take their foot off the gas a bit after halftime and the defensive effort was a large part of the reason why the offense struggled so much. Unable to turn over the basketball and get their own easy points in transition, the Lakers fell victim to what served them so well in the first half. On the whole, the Lakers’ defense has been fantastic but they do tend to have periods of mental lapses like this that they need to iron out.
On the whole, turnovers weren’t terrible against the Hawks. However, the Lakers struggled to take care of the ball in the third quarter and temporarily had the tables turned on them. While they would take better care of the ball in the fourth quarter and finished with 15 total turnovers (not all too bad), the mental lapses could prove dangerous against better teams.
The Ugly From the Lakers’ Win Over the Hawks
It was an off night for Anthony Davis, who hit all the shots he had no business making and missed all his easy looks. Davis finished the game with 14 points, one rebound, five assists, and five blocks so it really wasn’t a BAD night but considering his non-factor on the boards while going 5 of 14 from the field, it was ugly by Davis’ lofty standards. He has to be better and he will be better moving forward, just consider this a one-off anomaly.