The Lakers in 2023 have been invulnerable so far!
Los Angeles got off to a great start and, really, never looked back as they defeated the Atlanta Hawks, 130-114.
The Hawks looked lifeless in the first half. They couldn’t make anything on the offensive end and they were being ran off by the Lakers’ ball movement and fast break offense. The deficit ballooned to 26 and at the half, the Lakers led, 70-49. It looked like the ideal night for the Lakers as they have a game on Saturday night at Sacramento.
However, we know how the third quarter works for L.A. The Hawks finally got going. Trey Young, in particular, was wreaking havoc with his threes and floaters, scoring 17 in that third period. The Lakers were really giving the ball away as they had 8 turnovers alone in those 12 minutes. Atlanta threatened to make it a game near the end as they only trailed by 10 but Kendrick Nunn (more on him later) and Max Christie made back-to-back threes to end the quarter.
The Hawks took those consecutive threes back to begin the fourth before Christie and Russell Westbrook countered with their own shots behind the arc. Then LeBron James himself decided to shut it down. Consecutive dunks put some distance between the teams. I’d probably give up, too, if this was done to me:
The Lakers would go on to win the game and sweep the season series against Atlanta.
As of late, while the Lakers get careless with the ball earlier in the game, they tighten it up in the fourth quarter. They only gave the rock away once. Teams will make their runs; it is the NBA, after all. But the Lakers have done a great job holding teams off, even when leads have looked precarious in the second half. 16 is still not a great number for turnovers in a game so that’s still something to work on.
I just love that the Lakers have really moved the ball more and don’t get stagnant as much. They had 33 assists in this game. And the Lakers played big against the Hawks. They had an 11-rebound edge over Atlanta. L.A. also ruled the paint, 66-50, and ran Atlanta off the gym, 26-12.
LeBron returned to have a 25-7-10 performance. Kendrick Nunn came off the bench and stayed hot throughout. He put in a season-high 23 points and the Lakers are going to need that with Lonnie Walker IV and Austin Reaves out for the next couple of weeks. Russell Westbrook nearly had a triple-double with 18-11-9 and Thomas Bryant had himself a game with 19 points and 13 boards.
On a side note, Sterling Brown, who played for the Bucks (where Darvin Ham was an assistant), signed a 10-day contract to help in the swingman depth. He played three scoreless minutes.
Trey Young overcame a slow start to finish with 32 points and 9 assists. They also had three players with 16 points but their sluggish first half really did them in. The Lakers took advantage, as they should, and took the W.
They have their longest win streak of the season with four wins. The Lakers stay undefeated in the new year. But they don’t have a long time to replenish their energy as they play the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night in the capital of California.
Let’s see if they can make it five in a row after the weekend. That felt strange to type.