Hawks win eighth in row; LeBron James injured

CORRECTS TO SECOND HALF, NOT FIRST HALF - Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, center, shoots over Los Angeles Lakers forward Markieff Morris, left, and Dennis Schroder, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, March 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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CORRECTS TO SECOND HALF, NOT FIRST HALF - Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, center, shoots over Los Angeles Lakers forward Markieff Morris, left, and Dennis Schroder, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, March 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The Hawks edged out a shorthanded Lakers team, 99-94, Saturday in Los Angeles to win their eighth straight, keeping the league’s longest active winning streak alive.

Next up, on their eight-game road trip, the Hawks (22-20) will face the Clippers in Los Angeles Monday.

Below are some takeaways from the win:

1. This marked the Hawks’ first eight-game winning streak since winning 19 consecutive games from Dec. 27, 2014 to Jan. 31, 2015, the year they went undefeated in January. They’ve also won five road games in a row for the first time since Jan. 4-16 in 2017.

2. The Hawks didn’t really have to contend with the defending champion Lakers’ two stars. Early in the second quarter, LeBron James went down with a right ankle injury (Solomon Hill was called for a foul), yelling and grabbing his ankle in pain as he laid on the court. He tried to play through it, hitting a 3-pointer after a timeout, before taking himself out of the game (finishing with 10 points and four assists in about 11 minutes) and heading back to the locker room. He didn’t return, was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain and is out indefinitely, per ESPN. Anthony Davis, who led the Lakers in scoring (25 points, three blocked shots) in their 107-99 win vs. the Hawks Feb. 1, missed Saturday’s game with a right calf strain.

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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James holds his ankle after going down with an injury during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks Saturday, March 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James holds his ankle after going down with an injury during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks Saturday, March 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez

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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James holds his ankle after going down with an injury during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks Saturday, March 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez

Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez

3. Though the Hawks controlled most of the second half, they started rushing shots and let the Lakers (28-14) hang around for longer than interim coach Nate McMillan would have liked. James’ absence certainly changed the tone of the game and, trailing by one at halftime, the Hawks started off the third quarter on a 12-0 run to take a 64-53 lead. They held to Lakers to 12 points in the third and had a nine-point advantage going into the fourth, before allowing Montrezl Harrell to score 16 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter alone. It ended up being much closer than the Hawks wanted. “I didn’t think we finished the game the right way,” McMillan said. “Sometimes the basketball gods will punish you when you play the way we did down the stretch. ... I thought we started to settle for long jump shots and not continue to keep pressure on their defense, attacking the basket, only nine free throws we had tonight.”

4. John Collins had a stellar game, with 27 points and a season-high 16 rebounds, for a double-double. He also added three blocks and three steals, helping to disrupt the Lakers, who finished with 16 turnovers. Trae Young added a double-double of 14 points and 11 assists.

5. This was the first of the Hawks’ eight-game road trip out west, which will majorly test them after playing only one team with a winning record over their seven-game win stretch entering Saturday. The schedule, in addition to the competition, will be a tough grind, as they play eight games in 15 days, bouncing from city to city.

Stat of the game

8-for-9 (the Hawks got the win despite getting to the free-throw line a season-low amount)

Star of the game

John Collins (had a great game on both ends of the court, adding 27 points, a season-high 14 rebounds, three blocks and three steals)

Quotable

“He’s always been a great defensive coach and you can just tell. You can just tell what good coaching and defense does, especially out there, it’s a little bit night and day. I feel like in that first game we were able to get in the paint and kind of get whatever we wanted. ... They made us play, for the most part, a lot of the game, 1-on-1. Nate’s done a good job and they’re winning eight straight.” (The Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma on how different the Hawks look under new coach Nate McMillan)