Odds are you didn’t have Hawks-Lakers down as being a competitive game from start to finish.
Thanks to the Hawks stymieing Los Angeles’ normally hot shooting, the Lakers’ 22 turnovers and limited contributions on offense from players not named LeBron James or Anthony Davis, Atlanta stuck around against the top team in the Western Conference for much longer than anticipated in a 101-96 loss Sunday at State Farm Arena.
Trae Young led the Hawks with 30 points and seven assists. For the Lakers, James led with 32 points and 13 rebounds, and Davis added 27 points and 13 rebounds.
Down seven points at halftime, the Hawks scored seven straight to open the third quarter and tie things up 55-55 (three Lakers turnovers in about three minutes helped their case), and the Hawks only trailed by four points going into the fourth quarter. In the fourth, rookie Cam Reddish, who finished with 10 points and five rebounds, went coast-to-coast and finished with his left hand to bring the Hawks within five at 87-82 with 8:46 left in the fourth, and a 3-pointer by Young kept the deficit at five at the 4:06 mark.
The Hawks kept it close until the very end, when two free throws by rookie De’Andre Hunter brought them within two points, 98-96, with 19.8 seconds to go, and James missed one of two free throws to make it a three-point game. Reddish missed a corner 3 with 9.7 seconds left, and the Lakers were able to hold on.
Neither team had a good shooting night, with the Hawks shooting 35.6% from the field and 28.6% from 3 (12 for 42). The Lakers shot 42.4% from the field and 16.1% from 3 (5 for 31).
Kevin Huerter exited with 8:21 left in the fourth and did not return. Huerter was diagnosed with a left shoulder contusion on the same shoulder he injured Nov. 12 in Denver, which kept him out 11 games.
It was a messy first quarter, with the Hawks registering five turnovers to the Lakers’ seven, but the Hawks made five 3-pointers (compared to the Lakers going 0-for-5 from 3-point range) to take a 25-24 lead heading into the second.
The Lakers didn’t register a 3-pointer until the 6:40 mark of the second quarter, courtesy of James. It allowed the Hawks to keep it close in the first half, as did 14 first-half Lakers turnovers. The first half still devolved into an L.A. highlight reel at times, with a purple and gold-heavy crowd erupting after a between-the-legs assist by James set up a massive dunk by Dwight Howard with about two minutes left in the second.
Still, this matchup was much more competitive this time around — the Hawks lost to the Lakers 122-101 Nov. 17 at Staples Center.
Up next, the Hawks play the Knicks in New York Tuesday.