After getting dismantled by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, the Atlanta Hawks returned home to face the 1-9 Lakers. Los Angeles has been terrible on the season, and their league-worst defense offered an easy opportunity for the Hawks to bounce back. That wasn’t the case, as the Lakers came out firing, and put Atlanta at a disadvantage early.
The Hawks defense was awful, allowing Kobe Bryant and company to get whatever they wanted on the offensive end. LA dropped 31 points in the first quarter, and they had one of their most efficient halves of the young season. Paul Millsap scored 13 of the Hawks’ first 15 points, but had to go to the bench due to foul trouble. The rest of the team could only muster up seven points in the first period.
Things didn’t get much better for the Hawks in the second, as the Lakers started to pile on. The Hawks started to show some life on the offensive end, but defensively they struggled for the second straight game. The Lakers were moving the ball more than they had all season, and Atlanta’s rotations weren’t sharp. Nick Young came off the bench in his first game and burned the Hawks, seemingly hitting every shot he took. The Hawks trailed 67-52 at the half, and things weren’t looking good for the home team.
The third quarter would be a different story, as the Hawks came out on a mission. They started the half with a 13-2 run, and cut the lead to four early on. The Lakers would stabilize to a degree, but the momentum had changed. Kobe was much more conservative in the third quarter, and that gave Atlanta a chance to make this a game. The Hawks outscored the Lakers by seven in the quarter.
The fourth would be much of the same, but this time the Hawks’ surge was led by Jeff Teague, who took advantage of Jeremy Lin on almost every possession. Teague got to the rim with ease, and that allowed the entire offense to thrive. Teague’s excellence was capped off by a monster dunk late in the game. Ultimately the Hawks hung around and kept it close, but costly mistakes and missed shots cost them this game. There were two questionable foul calls on Atlanta down the stretch — but make no mistake — the Hawks have only themselves to blame for this loss.
Down three with just seconds left, Pero Antic missed a wide-open three-point attempt that would have tied the game at 112, and the miss ended the game. The Lakers handed the Hawks their second straight loss, and they are now 5-5 through ten games this season.
Kyle Korver struggled again after failing to score against Cleveland, as he had just eight points in 39 minutes of action. Thabo Sefolosha and Antic struggled as well, going a combined 6-for-20 from the field for 14 points.
The bench — outside of Shelvin Mack and Dennis Schröder — played terrible, and they are going to have to find a spark from someone else if their depth is going to assist them this season. Elton Brand, Mike Muscala, and John Jenkins didn’t find playing time, and DeMarre Carroll was out again with his groin injury.
The defense has been really bad this season, and the last eight quarters have been abysmal for the Hawks. They have now given up 241 points in their last two games. DeMarre’s return should help the defense and rebounding (Hawks were outrebounded 44-38), but the team has to step it up if they want to take the next step in the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks will be back in action on Friday when Josh Smith and the Pistons come to Philips. Here’s hoping DeMarre can come back and the team can put the brakes on this skid.