Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Hawks

Daniel Rapaport —  December 16, 2013

The Lakers will look to get back to .500 on the season tonight when they take on the Atlanta Hawks in the third game of a tough road trip. It’s the third game in four nights for the purple (blue) and gold, who will wrap up the trip tomorrow night in Memphis.

Kobe Bryant looked like one of the best players on the floor for the first time since his return in Saturday’s 88-85 victory over Charlotte. Kobe made an effort to get Pau the ball early after the Spaniard and Coach D’Antoni traded backhanded quips through the media, and the deep chemistry between the two that was formed by three consecutive Finals appearance was evident, a sight that always warms the heart of Laker faithful everywhere. The two were highly effective in pick-and-roll sets and were able to create good looks for others, with Kobe filling up the stat sheet on his way to 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 dimes. While he’s still turning the ball over at way too high a rate (he’s tallied twenty-five in four games, and coughed it up 7 times against the Bobcats), it’s important to remember that he’s both playing for the first time in eight months and playing out of position. But there’s no sign of a return for either of the three injured point guards, so if the Lakers want to remain relevant in the playoff hunt, Kobe will have to continue to be the effective distributor he’s been from the point guard spot while finding a way to limit the turnovers.

The Hawks enter tonight’s matchup coming off one of the more peculiar losses in franchise history. Saturday’s 111-106 lost to the Knicks at Madison Square garden was only the sixth time in the past 10 seasons that a team has shot 60% and lost. But 27 turnovers, the most in a single game yet this season, will do that to you, so look for the Hawks to be extra careful with the basketball tonight.

Despite being only one game better than the Lakers at 12-12, the Hawks are sitting pretty as the East’s third seed because, that’s right, only two teams in the Eastern Conference have winning records. They’re a balanced team, who are led by Al Horford’s efficient post play (he shoots 55% from the field) and the vastly improved Jeff Teague, whose averaging career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. Containing Teague will be a key for tonight for the Lakers, who have been torched by young, quick point guards the past two years. I’d expect Kobe to conserve a bit of energy on the offensive end tonight to allow himself to be able to chase Teague, an elite pick-and-roller, around screens all night. Atlanta’s Kyle Korver is one of (if not the) premier three point shooters in the NBA, and comes into tonight’s game having made a three pointer in an NBA-record 93 (!!!) straight games.

As is often the case with Mike D’Antoni-led teams, the Lakers’ chances tonight will depend on how effective they are on the defensive side of the ball. LAL is giving up 103.5 points per game, good for second worst in the league and is yet to win a game when giving up more that magic number of 103 points. If they can keep Atlanta’s balanced scoring attack  under control, I like our chances tonight.

Pau’s become the center of attention recently after MDA essentially told the media that he wasn’t playing hard enough. It takes a great deal of maturity to avoid falling into a screw-this-guy mentality and use the comments as motivation, and luckily for the Lakers, Pau possessed said maturity. He and Kobe have something to prove, and that’s historically been very bad news for the rest of the NBA. If the game is close down the stretch, look for the Lakers to close with the lineup of Bryant/Young/Johnson/Hill/Gasol that looked comfortable in securing the victory down the stretch in Charlotte.

Where you can watch: 4:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

Daniel Rapaport

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40 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Hawks

  1. 1st comment? No way lol, winnable game tonight, i hope you are right about MDA’s comments lighting a fire under Pau and having something to prove. We will see, great preview as always.

  2. This one is for Warren (if you are doing Comment #1, you need to remember that, Fern. ;-) .

  3. Kobe turnovers over/under 6.5.

  4. Treylake anti Kobe comments over/under 3.5?

  5. 4 turnover by Kobe in 6 minutes!

    Shoot the ball Kobe and hold off passing to nobody!

  6. Take the over!

  7. Carrying over from the last thread –

    Double R,

    You’re correct in the fact that he did not mention D’Antoni by name within that article, but he stated, “Never did I think I would come here and not play, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have come ..” Since D’Antoni was the coach when he signed and I haven’t heard anything in regards to the FO or training staff mandating that he is not to get playing time (maybe others have), D’Antoni is the individual that he seems to have an issue with since he’s the only one who relegates minutes.

  8. Over for both.

  9. More shots Kobe less passing

  10. Man Meeks 5 for 27 last 3 games! What’s the deal?

  11. How many more bricks must Williams throw up before mda stops giving him pt??

  12. If Teague and Meeks played horse they would never get past H.

    Good job by Young and Hill.

  13. Williams is a smart player, Id rather have him play than sacre anyday.

  14. Can’t blame Chris. Getting zero minutes. Best not to question MD or he will never play.

  15. there is only so many slow white guy center that can’t defend the rim mins to go around – and since Pau gets paid more he gets em.

  16. Meeks belongs on bench!

  17. Pau is so weak on rebounds and Meeks is terrible .et the guy out of there.

  18. 58-49, they go on 16-4 run until Pringles calls a to. Dude musta fell asleep on the bench.

    edit: now another TO. Lol

  19. How in the world can mike keep Meeks out there yet he didn’t like Kamen so never plays him. Very strange coaching.

  20. Seems like the Lakers always get off to a slow start in the third quarter. Jordan Hill is having a nice game.

  21. Korver is the one guy they have to watch, but Pau can’t stay w Horford, johnson helps off Korver and gets burned…..

  22. Just amazingly stupid coaching.

  23. Ryan Kelley over Kaman??? Ok this does it, this clown of a coach needs to be canned now!!

  24. Just give away the game mike. Kelly but no Kamen. What is wrong with this guy? I just don’t get him.

  25. Nice job Mike. Maybe you should start Kelly at PG next game. Jimmy deserves what he gets a loser.

  26. lol. Our defensive rebounding probably costs us at least 33% of our losses.

  27. While it’s quite obvious that this team is in need of a PG, what we’re also lacking is a defensive identity. They’re scoring at will against us.

  28. Hawks on fire from three point range in the second half, many of their attempts are wide open. Lakers starting to look like a team that has played 3 games in four nights with a “scheduled loss” game of 4 games in 5 nights tomorrow.

  29. By the way since trade Sac is winning. Lakers could end up fighting Utah for LAST in the West.

  30. Nice game Kobe

  31. Meeks shooting 22% last 3 and is a minus 38. Yet he plays 24 minutes.

    Offense completely stopped when Kobe had the ball. This is not a very good team.

  32. What the hell happened to Meek’s 3pt shot? He is in a slump….smh.. 23.8% from 3pt the last 5 games which crazy enough has coincided with Kobe’s return smh…

    Didn’t see the game but Hill is like 8/8 with 21 pts and he gets 28 min?

  33. Williams and Kelly 20 minutes zero points

    Kamen zero minutes and tied them in points.

    Is this a bad dream?

  34. not a fun product to watch at all. the lack of ball handling is stunning for a team full of pro players. really hope Kobe gets his explosiveness back.

  35. It’snot the coaches fault when player’s miss shots, but it is Kobe’s fault when those same player’s shoot like players on a middle school team. The hamartia of the Lakers offensive scheme has echoed throughout the annals of the NBA, “You live by the three, you die by the three.” Add the lack of defense and rebounding to the mix, and in Gomer Pyle’s voice, surprise, surprise, surprise, you’ve concocted a losing streak.

    It seems as though the moment Kobe returned the team felt as though their savior had arrived, thus they felt as though hard work was no longer apropos.

    #LakersWillBounceBack

  36. “…but it is Kobe’s fault when those same player’s shoot like players on a middle school team.”

    Who is blaming Kobe? I didn’t read any comments singling him out.

  37. Who is blaming Kobe? I didn’t read any comments singling him out.
    ***********************************
    What the hell happened to Meek’s 3pt shot? He is in a slump….smh.. 23.8% from 3pt the last 5 games which crazy enough has coincided with Kobe’s return smh…

  38. Meeks was sitting at 47% on 3s, well above his career average, so it is probably a combination of the missing PGs and regression to the mean.