Okongwu excels in fourth quarter as Hawks down Lakers

With stellar play in the fourth quarter, the Hawks beat the Lakers 129-121 Sunday at State Farm Arena, earning their seventh-straight win.

Next up, the Hawks’ five-game homestand continues when they host the Raptors Monday.

Below are some takeaways from the win:

1. With seven consecutive wins, the Hawks continue to be the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. They’ve gone from 17-25, No. 12 in standings, to now one game under .500 at 24-25 and No. 10 in the standings, which puts them in the play-in tournament. The Hawks beaten the Bucks, Timberwolves, Heat, Hornets, Kings, Celtics and now the Lakers on this win streak.

2. After a rough end to the third quarter, the Hawks entered the fourth trailing by 10, 101-91. Then, a bench lineup of Lou Williams, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari and Onyeka Okongwu plus Trae Young started heating up, getting stops on defense and making timely plays on offense, with the Hawks ultimately winning the fourth quarter 38-20. The Hawks held the Lakers scoreless the final 2:27 of the game and a 3-pointer by Young gave the Hawks a four-point lead with 53.1 seconds to play. Young had a game-high 36 points and 12 assists for a double-double, with the Hawks’ bench putting up another strong performance (44 points).

3. In particular, second-year center Onyeka Okongwu excelled in the fourth quarter, with 12 of his 16 points coming in the final period, playing physical defense, as well. He finished as a plus-15 and played the entire fourth, making every shot he took down the stretch (6-for-6). Overall, Okongwu also added five rebounds and a steal.

“He’s been playing super big-time for us,” Young said of Okongwu.

4. LeBron James missed this game with left knee soreness/effusion, but Anthony Davis (right wrist soreness) and Malkik Monk (left groin soreness) were both available to play. The Hawks had a completely clean injury report, with Young (right hip soreness) and De’Andre Hunter (right ankle discomfort) available to play. Monk led the Lakers in scoring with 33 points (going 8-for-14 from 3-point range), Davis added 27 points, five rebounds and four assists, with three turnovers and Russell Westbrook had 20 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds and four turnovers.

5. This game started getting chippy in the second quarter, with Young receiving a technical foul after John Collins (20 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, plus-10) picked up his third foul. Young had five turnovers in the first half and just one in the second half, with the Hawks committing nine turnovers in the first half, leading to 17 Lakers points, and just three in the second half, leading to two Lakers points. Carmelo Anthony also received a technical foul in the third quarter.

“We settled down,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “I thought the hype of the game, playing the Lakers, in the first half, we were just really playing emotionally drunk out there. We were just so in attack mode that we weren’t seeing clearly what we needed to do… Our defense showed up in time in that fourth quarter, giving up only 20 points, and we did a good job of executing down the stretch and scoring the ball.”

Stat of the game: 38-20 (what the Hawks outscored the Lakers by in the fourth quarter)

Star of the game: Okongwu (scored 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Hawks to victory)

Quotable: “We have what it takes to win games. No matter if we’re up or down, no matter how the game’s going, as long as we lock in and if we continue to play how we’re playing, we can beat anybody.” (Okongwu on the Hawks buckling down in the fourth quarter on this win streak)