The Hawks got just what the needed – a relatively easy win over a bad and injury-depleted team.
The Hawks led by as many as 31 points en route to a 106-77 victory over the Lakers in a nationally televised game Friday night at the Staples Center. The game wasn’t close after the first 20 minutes.
The Hawks (34-28) swept the season series from the Lakers for the first time since 1973-74 (4-0). More importantly, they kept their hold on fifth place in the Eastern Conference, a slim half-game over the Hornets with 20 contests left in the regular season.
For the fourth consecutive game, the Hawks held their opponent under 40 percent shooting - Bulls (.364), Hornets (.333), Warriors (.398) and Lakers (.341).
The Lakers (12-51) have lost 10 of their last 11 games. The played without Kobe Bryant, who sat his third game in the past four due to right shoulder soreness. They were also without starting guard Jordan Clarkson and top reserve Lou Williams. Bryant and Clarkson are the Lakers’ two leading scorers. It was the final game for Bryant against the Hawks in his 20-year career.
The Hawks will be right back in the Staples Center Saturday night for a game against the Clippers.
Here are the key players and five observations on the game:
Three key players
Kris Humphries: The newest Hawk had 14 points and eight rebounds in his debut.
Kyle Korver: The shooting guard finished with 15 points, including 4 of 4 from 3-point range.
D’Angelo Russell: The Lakers rookie guard had been on a tear in his six games since returning to the starting lineup. He finished with seven points on 3 of 15 shooting.
1. Humphries debuts
Humphries made his Hawks debut early in the first quarter. The newly signed big man, active for his second game, entered the game with 6:40 remaining in the period. He was the Hawks’ first sub and entered for Al Horford at center. Humphries immediately picked up Lakers’ center Roy Hibbert on the defensive end. Humphries stepped out of bounds for a turnover on his first possession. Things got much better from there. He had two points and two rebounds in his first six minutes before Horford re-entered for the final minute. Humphries finished with 10 first-half points, including a 3-pointer, four rebounds, one steal and one block.
2. New regular rotation?
It was one game, but this might have been a glimpse of what the Hawks’ rotation will look like for the rest of the season. They will go with the same five starters with Thabo Sefolosha, Dennis Schroder, Mike Scott, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Humphries as the next five. That would leave Kirk Hinrich, Mike Muscala and Edy Tavares at the end of the bench. Lamar Patterson is currently playing in the NBA Development League and he could remain for more than a short stint.
3. Enough is enough
The Hawks led by just five points, 37-32, with 4:31 remaining in the second quarter. A 17-5 run to end the quarter followed. The Hawks took the 18-point advantage, 54-36, into intermission. Humphries had eight points and Korver had six points in the decisive run.
4. Hanging around
The Lakers hung around for a quarter and a half – mostly because of their sizeable rebounding advantage. At one point into the second quarter, the Lakers had more offensive rebounds (11) than the Hawks had total rebounds (9). The Lakers had four offensive rebounds on one second-quarter possession alone. For the first half, the Lakers’ total rebound advantage was 27-18, including 9-1 on the offensive boards.
5. Lakers are … not good
A fan in the Staples Center yelled during the game ‘Don’t worry, it’s almost baseball season!” He had a point. This is not a good Lakers team. It’s even worse without its two leading scorers in Kobe Bryant and Jordan Clarkson. Yes Lakers fans, the Dodgers and Angels will begin their seasons soon.