Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The (45-19) Los Angeles Lakers are in the state of Georgia to face the re-tooled (37-26) Atlanta Hawks.

The Lakers proved to the Spurs and the entire NBA that after all of the chatter in league circles that the defending champion still resides in Los Angeles. They played their best basketball of the season and dispatched the Spurs early.

Sunday’s game was a must-win game for them by demolishing them and snapping their 22-game home winning streak and the Purple & Gold showed that they’re ready and willing to meet to challenge. They topped the Spurs in every way possible and the final score was not indicative of the beat down that they administered.

The Lakers seven-game win streak started with them emphatically destroying the Atlanta Hawks. The irony is that the Hawks will contribute twice to the Lakers eight-game and counting winning streak.

Prior to the trade deadline, the Hawks essentially moved point guard Mike Bibby for Kirk Hinrich. The move improves the Atlanta Hawks and strengthens the team at the point guard position.

Kobe Bryant is 13 points away from another offensive milestone, passing Moses Malone (27, 410 points) to move into sixth place on the All-Time scoring list.

The Lakers are playing with tremendous defensive focus and offensive discipline. A lot of the credit for the improved play defensively needs to go to assistant coach Chuck Person.

The Lakers have taken care of the ball and limited their turnovers. They’re running their offense from the inside out, displaying excellent ball movement and excellent player movement in search of a high percentage shots. They to continue to control the tempo of the game, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, get back in transition, do a good job defending the screen and roll play and quickly rotate out to open shooters.

Andrew Bynum’s energy and activity level have been outstanding. He’s been an absolute beast; his rebounding and defense have been tremendous. He’s playing so well defensively that I am on the verge of making a case that the NBA should start charting changed shots or altered shots.

The Lakers bench has to join the party. They have to do a better job of running offense and it is imperative that this group does a better job of knocking down shots.

Starters
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, R. Artest, P. Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Hawks:
K. Hirich, J. Johnson, M. Williams, J. Smith, A. Horford

Tip-off: 4:00 PM PST

Television

  • Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
  • Atlanta: FS South (Bob Rathbun & Dominique Wilkins)

Radio

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

Injuries

Lakers:

  • Matt Barnes (Right Knee Surgery) Probable
  • Theo Ratliff (Left Knee Surgery) Out
  • Devin Ebanks (Stress Fracture, Left Tibia) Out
  • Derek Fisher (Sprained Left Elbow) Probable

Hawks:

None