The Hawks (4-9) ended their West Coast road trip with a 122-101 loss to the Lakers (11-2) Sunday at the Staples Center.
Below are some takeaways from the loss:
1. A day after the Hawks quickly fell in a 17-point hole and lost to the Clippers by 49, the loss to the Lakers looked like it would be a similar tale early on. Atlanta quickly got in a 15-point hole and later trailed 30-6 with 4:32 still to play in the first quarter. This one stayed at least a little more competitive, with the Hawks fighting their way back to make it a 10-point game in the third quarter — outscoring the Lakers 36-27 in that period — after a put-back layup by Evan Turner. But it still got out of hand in the fourth, with back-to-back 3’s by Kyle Kuzma giving L.A. a 102-82 lead with just over nine minutes to go.
“It was good to see our guys fight a little bit tonight,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “What a crazy start to the game that was, I think 30-6 we were down. To be down 12 at the quarter, just a little bit of fight from our guys, which was important. Two tough teams on a back-to-back, two teams that played extremely well, even for their standards.”
2. With LeBron James on the bench for the last 2:46 of the first quarter and to start the second, the Hawks cut a 25-point deficit to 10. James checked back in at the 8:26 mark of the second and the Lakers quickly got back to their dominant pace, leading by 28 at halftime. James was a plus-41 at halftime. He finished with 33 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists, making 6 of 10 3-point attempts.
3. Hawks guard Trae Young registered his sixth 30-point game of the season, finishing with 31 points, seven assists and two steals, though he did add a season-high eight turnovers. Young continues to face most of the heat from opponents’ defenses.
The Hawks shot 43% from the field and made eight 3’s compared to the Lakers’ 52.8% from the field with 15 3’s.
“We’re not shooting well, extremely well as a team,” Pierce said. “He’s feeling everyone’s double teams and hits and he’s getting hit and pressured. A lot of times, that’s how he ends up with some of the turnovers, just an enormous amount of pressure.”
4. This loss wraps up the Hawks’ West Coast trip. They went 1-4, losing to Portland in overtime, beating Denver behind 42 points from Young and losing three straight to the Suns, Clippers and Lakers. They fall to 4-9 on the season and it doesn’t get easier anytime soon, with a home game against Milwaukee and reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo looming Wednesday.
“We knew, coming out West for a five-game trip, as a young team, and the caliber of opponents we were playing, was going to be tough,” Pierce said. “We snuck one (against Denver), we drop one in Portland that we felt we probably could have had, and we go against two elite teams in our league. Glad it’s over. Glad we got this trip out of the way early. But we have a lot of work to do.”
5. The Hawks had a much better second half than first half, and a lot of that can be attributed to solid performances by rookies De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish. (Both were held scoreless in the first half. )
In addition to carrying their weight defensively, Hunter went 4 for 4 from the field in the second half, scoring two 3-point attempts. Hunter contributed 11 points and three assists.
Reddish went 5 for 10, making 1 of 4 3’s. Reddish finished with 13 points and three steals.
By the Numbers
7 (the amount of Lakers players who finished with double-digit points in LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso)
“A well-conditioned athlete, probably the greatest athlete we’ve ever seen. At the top of his game. I don’t care how old he is. He’s at the top of his game right now.” (Pierce on facing James, who is 34)
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