Lakers end 2022 against Hawks in Atlanta

Lakers are nearing the end of their five-game road trip.

It’s not all great in Lakerland. The team has lost 5 of 6 games. LeBron James has become more vocal about wanting to win. And the front office, at least on the surface, has shown no inkling of making any roster moves after two self-imposed deadlines.

But in the meantime, the Lakers are 14-21. LeBron is still doing his damnedest to keep the team afloat as the team continues to await the return of Anthony Davis, whenever that may be. Next to face the Lakers? The Atlanta Hawks.

The Hawks have also underperformed this season at 17-18. They’re 9th in the Eastern Conference as of this writing. But they’ve also been hit by some injuries as well and I expect them to be in the playoff mix come April.

We all know that Trae Young leads the Hawks. He did miss the game against Brooklyn on Wednesday with a calf injury but he’s listed as probable in the latest injury report so I’ll write as if he’s playing. Young is averaging 27.3 points and 9.9 assists per game so the gaudy stats are there. His three-point shooting is the worst it’s been at .316 but it’s still not wise to leave him alone. He can break down a defense with his floaters and pick-and-rolls. The man is second in assists for a reason.

Dejounte Murray has been as advertised: averaging 20.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 1.7 steals. Some get the feeling that the chemistry hasn’t been as good between the two stars but the talent is certainly there. Bogdan Bogdanovic recently returned to provide much-needed offense. John Collins has been in trade rumors for a while now and he’s noticeably scored and rebounded less this season (12.7 points, 7.7 boards per).

A.J. Griffin, their first-rounder from last summer, has been very good this season (10.5 PPG). He’s even had a game-winner against Toronto. Clint Capela has been out recently (and he will be again, along with De’Andre Hunter) but Onyeka Okongwu has been good in his place. He went for 18 points and 13 boards against the Nets in Wednesday. The Hawks also have the Holiday brothers (Aaron and Justin) and Jalen Johnson to round out a pretty deep bench.

But again, the team is all about Trae Young. They will pick up the pace. They will attack the paint. Believe it or not, they are somehow worse than the Lakers in three-point percentage. They do lead the league in shot attempts inside the arc (if you don’t get it, I meant two-pointers).

LeBron James is questionable on the latest injury report with Dennis Schröder, Lonnie Walker IV, and Austin Reaves being probable. It goes without saying that they need all the wins they can get, especially with LeBron James firing off his warning shot about wanting to win championships. They looked fatigued against Miami, turning the ball over a season-high and a repulsive 24 times. They arguably had their best game of the season against Orlando but the Magic are also a very young and inexperienced team. The Hawks aren’t really that.

Still, we’d like to see more ball movement, especially when LeBron has the ball. Yes, it’s easy to watch him in action but he’s also waiting for teammates to dive, set a pick, or/and get open. We saw a lot of that in Orlando. And hopefully, they can take better care of the ball. We’ve seen them lose games purely because of carelessness.

So it would be great if the Lakers can put up a fight. The Hawks are definitely going to defend their house just like that lady did recently at a dining establishment very familiar to Atlanta.

Happy Birthday, LeBron James.

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