The Hawks lost a close one to the Lakers 101-96 on Sunday night at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The five-point margin doesn’t really reflect how close a matchup this was. The two teams went toe-to-toe, back and forth, all night. Ultimately, it was the Lakers rose to the occasion led by a combined 59-point outing from LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who both ended the night with double-doubles. Trae Young led the Hawks with 30 points.
King James put up a whopping 23 points in the first half alone, leading the team to 55-48 lead at halftime. His most impressive feat had to be the no-look, through-the-legs bounce pass to Dwight Howard who threw down a monster dunk that sent the arena through the roof (that would be his only points of the night). Mind you, this is after James pulled a spin move on Alex Len and dunked the ball.
During that time, the Hawks weren’t slacking at all. Trailing by seven, they hit seven three-pointers in the first half.
The Hawks opened up the third quarter with a Trae Young lob to a wide-open Jones who found himself alone under the rim and slammed it home.
The Lakers started to pull away in the third quarter with an Anthony Davis showcase. A few dunks and some outside jumpers saw the Lakers up 78-69.
The Hawks brought the game within two as time was winding down in the third quarter. Vince Carter drove to the basket, stopped, and hit a step-back fadeaway to make it 80-78, Lakers. Downcourt, Anthony Davis of the Lakers pulled an impressive spin move and hit a fadeaway jumper to push LA five points clear as the quarter ended.
About midway through the fourth quarter, the Lakers were feeling it. In transition, LeBron led the Lakers downcourt in a three-on-two and dished the ball off to Rajon Rondo who nailed a contested three-pointer. The Hawks would respond with a blocked shot and a solid layup by Cam Reddish on the other end.
Trae Young did everything he could to keep the Hawks in it, but in the end, the Lakers were just too much on the offensive end. With about a minute left to play, Young drove through the lane for an attempted layup. Had he made it, momentum would’ve immediately shifted in their favor and they’d be down a point. But there was too much traffic under the rim and his attempt was rejected and secured by Anthony Davis.
The Lakers are looking dangerous. With options on the bench, it’s no wonder they boast an eye-popping 24-3 record. What’s more impressive? 14 of those wins have been on the road and they’re currently riding a seven-game win streak. The consensus from this list of sites has the Lakers and Clippers as the two NBA title favorites at +272 and +300, respectively, the Bucks are closing fast. The beasts of the East have won 12 in a row and their championship futures have improved from +630 to +450 in the process. Most of the gains are attributable to Milwaukee’s strong play – their +12.4 point different is 3.3 points higher than any other team – but the weak competition in the East is also factoring in. Only one other team in the conference is in the top-seven of the title odds (76ers at +900).
The Hawks can leave with their heads held high. They played well, the match just didn’t end in their favor. They’ll hit the road to take on the New York Knicks Tuesday night, Dec. 17, at 6:30 PM.
Photo: Hakim Wright