500 – FINALLY. It’s been two months since the Lakers’ record was even Stevens (15-15 back in December). It was, quite literally, touch and go there in the final minutes, however, as the home team built a 16-point lead in the third quarter, and then lost it completely before heading into the fourth.
Atlanta’s Devin Harris was 0-3 in the first half, but came into the third quarter and rattled off 12 points on 4-5 to help the Hawks out of that large deficit. After the Lakers lost the large advantage (a bad habit that has reared its ugly head many times this season), the score went back and forth until the final buzzer at 98-99.
Kobe Bryant – 34 points on 13-27 from the field, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. If not for the five turnovers, this would have been a relatively more successful stat line, but Mamba’s been on an offensive tear since the All-Star break and the Lakers have been benefiting from his fruits. He provided the highlight play of the game when, with under two minutes left in the game and the Lakers behind by a point, Bryant drove in and dunked one on Atlanta’s Josh Smith.
Rebounds – After two quarters, the Lakers had outrebounded the Hawks 26-17, with Atlanta not collecting a single offensive rebound. Los Lakers finished with 43 boards to the Hawks’ 36, led by Dwight Howard’s 15 rebounds.
.500 – It’s been a tough road to .500 but the Lakers managed to get there and are now 7-2 since All-Star weekend.
Blown Leads – The Lakers had an 11-point lead in the first quarter, but allowed Atlanta to come back in the second quarter to take a seven-point lead. The Lakers managed to take the lead back before the half, and then went on an 11-4 run in the third quarter to give themselves a 16-point cushion. Unfortunately, the Hawks went on their scoring run shortly after, getting to within three points until Bryant hit a three-pointer at the end of the quarter to bring the lead to at least six before the fourth. The Lakers are not new to this way of victimizing themselves during a game. It’s sometimes not worth getting to such a large lead if they fail to build on it, or at the very least protect it. It makes the game exciting in the end, true, but the last few seconds of the game could have gone either way tonight and the Lakers were fortunate to come out victors in the end.
Turnovers – It’s a habit that, at this point in the season, the Lakers should have remedied. By halftime, they’d racked up 12 turnovers already, and finished with 21. 21 turnovers led to 29 points for the Hawks.
Defense – Up by one point with about 34 seconds left in the game, and all the Lakers had to do was play defense for one Atlanta possession, but somehow, Al Horford managed to score on a wide open dunk. It appears Dwight Howard (and his teammates on the floor) lost track of Horford. That dunk gave Atlanta back the lead. Fortunately for the Lakers, Bryant managed to score on a driving layup to give the home team the lead to end the game.
It’s been a long road back to a .500 record. Unfortunately, it’s a feat in which the Lakers cannot dwell because in two days, this record will be challenged by the mighty OKC Thunder…in OKC.