Lakers Return Home to Host the ATL

Photo Credit: Getty Images

It’s February 14, 2012, Valentine’s Day, the (16-12) Los Angeles Lakers are hosting the (18-10) Atlanta Hawks. The Lakers return home after an average Grammy road trip salvaging a split. The extended road trip left the Lakers with far more questions than answers.

The most disappointing event was watching the Lakers surrender an 18-point first half lead against the Raptors, forced to make a comeback to walk away with a much-needed win. The Lakers bench outscored 47-24 in Toronto and consistently outscored by their opponents.

The Lakers, outscored in the second half of three of their six games were a Pau Gasol block and a Kobe Bryant game winning shot away from 1-5 record on their Grammy road trip. The Lakers are a different team away as opposed to at home and the difference is their defense. Defensively the purple and gold allowing 85.2 points at Staples center, but that number increasing to 95.8 on the road.

The Hawks have been one of the surprises of the league so far this season posting 18-wins; however, the Lakers are 11-2 at home. The Hawks have feasted on sub.500 teams this season with 13-wins. The Hawks have dropped four of their last six games. Atlanta has the NBA’s best road defense, surrendering 89.3 points on 42% shooting from the field.

The Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 games overall against the Hawks.  At the Staples Center, the Lakers are 9-3 all-time. The Hawks have lost five straight road games to the Lakers at the Staples center by an average of 17 points. Tonight is the first of a five-game road trip for Atlanta. There is a chance that former Laker Jannero Pargo will either start or play extended minutes.

The Lakers have to play better defense it is evident that a point guard with quickness and craftiness can have success against the purple and gold. The Lakers have to play solid against the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, control the tempo, defend, get back in transition, control the boards and quickly rotate out to open shooters.

The Lakers big three Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol continue to lead the team in scoring and are instrumental in the outcome of the game, but the purple and  gold need to have others step up and contribute on a consistent basis.

Starters
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Peace, P.Gasol, A. Bynum
Hawks:
J. Teague, J. Johnson, M. Williams, J. Smith, Z. Pachulia  

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: FS West (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
  • Atlanta: FS South (Bob Rathbun & Dominique Wilkins)

Radio -

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
  • Atlanta: 790 AM (Steve Holman)

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • Josh McRoberts (Sprained Left Big Toe) Probable
  • Kobe  Bryant (Torn Lunotriquetral Ligament, Right Wrist) Probable
  • Steve Blake (Costochaondral fracture) Probable

Hawks:

  • Al Horford (Shoulder) Out
  • Jason Collins (Elbow) Out
  • Jeff Teague (Sprained Ankle) Questionable

 

 

 

Jeff Little is the pre-game writer for LakerNation.com. Follow him on Twitter.