Lakers vs. Hawks – LA’s Winning Streak Continues
Its been a tough year for the Los Angeles Lakers to this point. Even after winning 4 of 5 since February 20th they entered Sunday night, 1 game below .500 with a 29-30 win/loss record. The Atlanta Hawks swooped into the Staples Center after losing in the desert Friday night to the Phoenix Suns. Previously the Hawks had won 4 straight. As it turned out this proved to be one of the more entertaining contests of the year thus far. Kobe Bryant scored the Lakers last 6 points in route to a thrilling 99-98 victory.
To say the game got off to a slow start would be an understatement. The score was Lakers 2, Hawks 1 after over 2 minutes of play in the first quarter. The trio of Bryant, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard made the rest of the opening period much more enjoyable for Lakers fans combining for 20 points. The first quarter ended with the Lakers up 30-26. The second quarter was equally as close with Antawn Jamison entering the scoring mix and Howard continuing to contribute. Jamison had 7 points including a 25 foot three pointer and Howard added 6 to his initial quarters production. The half ended with Bryant making one of two from the charity stripe and the Lakers ahead 52-45/
After intermission, the first half of the third quarter was all Lakers. The L.A. defense held Atlanta to 6 points in the first 5:12 of the frame. With 6:48 remaining, Howard made a 2 pointer off a Bryant assist and the Lakers were up by 16! Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse after that. The Hawks out scored the Lakers 22-12 in the remaining 6 minutes of the quarter allowing Atlanta to get back in the game with the score 79-73 in the Lakers favor prior to the beginning of the last quarter.
Circumstances continued to go in the Hawks favor early in the fourth quarter. Atlanta’s Kyle Korver hit a 3 pointer early on and added a 19 foot jumper to tie the game at 80 with 10:42 remaining in the contest. There was little scoring in the next couple of minutes, but when Hawks forward Al Horford dunked following a bad pass by Steve Blake, Atlanta led for the first time 84-83. Metta World Peace insured the Hawks lead didn’t last long hitting one from beyond the arc and re-establishing the Lakers lead to 86-84. The game then went back and forth with several ties before the “Black Mamba” did his thing to close it out. Metta Peace hit another trey to put the Lakers up by one. Then Bryant dunked to begin his 6 point game ending run and securing the 99-98 win.
The Lakers have now achieved the .500 mark for the season posting a 30-30 record. They are on the door step to at least gain the number 8 seed in the playoffs. Don’t sell this team short. While it is true they have struggled to “jell” with Howard and coach Mike D’Antoni’s arrivals they have been playing well of late. If they can just sneak into the postseason they could be hitting on all cylinders come April and surprise even an opponent such as the San Antonio Spurs.