Lakers look for four straight wins, get Hawks at home

Lakers are hoping for their longest winning streak of the season.

The Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association have won their last three games. This is the third time this season that they’ve won three in a row; they did that feat twice in their 8-2 run after starting out the season 2-10. Currently, they are 17-21 and 12th place in the West.

On the surface, it looks very bleak for the Lakers. But they’re actually only a game and half behind 10th place Utah. And the Jazz, the Timberwolves, and the Lakers all have the same number of losses at 21.

Besides, this NBA campaign has been wild. The Lakers beat the Milwaukee Bucks on the road. They’ve beaten the #1 team in the West, the Denver Nuggets. Actually, they did it twice. The Lakers also beat another top West team in the Pelicans.

And a few days ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder put 150 on the Boston Celtics, the team with the best record in the league. The Clippers have lost four straight. The Phoenix Suns were once the top seed but now they’re 8th in the West as they’re also on a four-game skid. The Brooklyn Nets were once pronounced dead and they went on a 12-game winning streak recently.

So it’s great that the Lakers are on a three-game win streak. They could sneakily climb up the standings if they continue this run they’re on. Up next? The Atlanta Hawks, a team that they have also defeated this season.

The Hawks have split their last two games after their loss to the Lakers. They lost at the buzzer in a double-overtime marathon against the Warriors. The Hawks then stopped their four-game losing streak by defeating the Kings and former teammate Kevin Huerter. And now they make their stop in Los Angeles for their last two games of a four-game road trip. They get the Lakers on Friday night and then the Clippers on Sunday.

You can boil it down to one reason why the Lakers took the duke; LeBron James had himself a birthday party with a 47-10-9 performance. The Lakers also felt like the bigger team and they showed it by outrebounding Atlanta, 55-41. L.A. also had the edge in paint points (74-56) and fast break points (23-5). And the Hawks are about that kind of play (10th most points in the paint and 6th in pace).

But that’s where the Lakers also thrive (2nd in both paint points and pace). They also did a good job of moving the ball around (34-22 in assists in favor of L.A.). What they do need to do is cut down on the turnovers. They had 16 against the Hawks. Heck, they had 17 in their win over Miami. They can’t let Trae Young and company take advantage of that. The Lakers already have a tough time stopping his pick-and-rolls and floaters.

The Hawks won’t have Clint Capela again but Onyeka Okongwu continues to provide very good minutes in his place. He had 17 points, 8 rebounds, and three blocks in their previous game against the Lakers.

LeBron James is probable (he didn’t play against Miami) so I expect him to be ready to go. The bad news is that Austin Reaves (hamstring) and Lonnie Walker IV (knee) will be out for, at least, a couple of weeks. They’ll need the aggressive side of Dennis Schröder, which they got on Wednesday when he put in 32 points. And Russell Westbrook will have to bring his motor again.

The Lakers look to stay undefeated in the year 2023 while the Hawks hope to improve on their 18-20 record. I know we always joke about “New Year, New Me” but it might be really a new “me” for the Lakers if they get the win here. They haven’t won four in a row all season.

Stay tuned.

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