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I’d be lying if I was in any way confident the Lakers would beat the Hawks, but I did believe they could compete and make enough of a game of it that they could win it. Maybe I should have been more confident. The Lakers beat the Hawks 109-94 to sweep the season series and push back up to .500 at 9-9 on the season.

The way the game started, however, it did not look like this would be the result. As he did in the first match up in Atlanta, Dwight Howard was controlling the action, catching lobs for dunks, getting drop off passes for dunks, and controlling the backboards. Dennis Shroeder was beating Jose Calderon off the dribble and it all domino’d from there, the Lakers’ defense unable to help the helper in a way which would stop the onslaught. By the end of the 1st quarter, the Lakers trailed by 11 and it looked like it might be another one of those nights.

In the 2nd quarter, though, it all changed. The Lakers’ all bench unit clamped down defensively all over the floor. Suddenly dribble penetration didn’t come as easily, lobs for Howard were contested by Tarik Black and Larry Nance with shots either disrupted or passes deflected entirely. The team then turned those defensive stops into offensive opportunities, with Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson feasting in transition and early offense. The result was the Lakers holding Atlanta to 16 points while dropping 35 of their own. That 11 point deficit turned into an 8 point lead and the team never looked back.

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After losing to the Warriors in back to back games, the Lakers are now 8-9 and under .500 for the first time since they were 2-3 on November 2nd. That day they played the Hawks on the final game of a 4 game road trip and surprisingly won even though they played without Timofey Mozgov to anchor against Dwight Howard.

That game served as a bit of a turnaround for these Lakers, not only rewarding them for their hard play, but because it served as the 1st game of the team’s new rotation which saw them scrap playing a traditional backup PG in favor of giving Brandon Ingram more ball-handling duties and riding a Clarkson/Williams tandem in the back court.

It’s a bit ironic, then, that the Lakers get the Hawks again tonight, though under vastly different circumstances. Tonight the Lakers are playing their final game at home before going out on a 4 game road trip, are now featuring Jose Calderon as a rotation mainstay due to D’Angelo Russell’s sore knee which will keep him out another week and a half, and have lost 3 of 4 before facing this team. Wait. Sorry, that last part is exactly the same as the match up in Atlanta almost a month ago.

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I’m going to keep this brief because it is hard to write and think clearly while in a food coma for nearly a full 24 hours. Those extra pieces of pie then cheesecake then going back for more honey baked ham seemed like a good idea at the time. It really did.

I wish I could say the Lakers are doing better than I am, but that doesn’t actually seem to be the case.

At shootaround today, Randle apparently tried to run but his hip tightened up on him. Young, meanwhile, sat out the session in order to receive treatment on his toe. Considering the Lakers are already without D’Angelo Russell, if neither Young nor Randle play the team will be without 3 starters and their vaunted depth pretty much evaporates.

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Whether you’re feasting or struggle plating, spending time with family or riding solo, working or relaxing, we at Forum Blue and Gold wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. We hope your day is filled with relaxation, a nice plate of food, and hopefully more good times than not.

As Lakers’ fans we definitely have a lot to be thankful for. Luke Walton is the coach. The young players, even though a couple are a bit banged up right now, are progressing and looking like they are on the right track to being really good. The veterans are playing well and proving to be productive and effective leaders. The team is 8-8 and battling every night. This is not the same team from recent seasons. They are fun and I am having fun watching them.

For this, I am thankful and I’d imagine many of you are too.

I am also thankful for this site, the community of posters, and for all of you who visit to read. I am thankful for the support you all have shown through financial contributions (you can still donate via paypal or at my patreon site) and for your encouragement here and through social media. I’ve now run FB&G for over 6 years and I enjoy it as much now as the day I took over.

With that, I again wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. We will see you tomorrow when the Lakers return to the court vs. the Warriors.

We already knew D’Angelo Russell, after missing Tuesday’s game against the Thunder, was ruled out for today’s game against the Warriors. It turns out, however, that he will be out longer than just those two games. According to the team, he received a PRP injection into his left knee and will be out a minimum of two weeks. He will be reevaluated after one week, likely to see how his knee has taken to the injection.

For those who are not familiar with PRP, it is similar to the treatments Kobe used to travel to Germany to treat his knee issues in the second half of his career. Per wikipedia, PRP “is blood plasma that has been enriched with platelets. As a concentrated source of autologous platelets, PRP contains several different growth factors and other cytokines that can stimulate healing of soft tissue.” In layman’s terms, they take some of Russell’s own blood, treat it in a way to concentrate the platelets (which promote healing), and then inject it back into the area which you want to feel better — in this case, Russell’s knee.

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“I told the guys the only two teams to beat them were us and San Antonio and we did it last. So they’re probably the ones that are a little nervous now.”

That was Luke Walton half-joking to the press corps after Tuesday’s win over the Thunder. A Nick Young game winner when he steals a pass headed to Lou Williams has a way of bringing out the humor in folks, I imagine. Or maybe Walton believes what he said? I mean, Walton has his Lakers at 8-7 with a top 10 offense a day before Thanksgiving. The man can clearly work some miracles.

In any event, the Lakers play Luke’s former team tonight in Oakland. D’Angelo Russell will not play — in fact, he was not even supposed to travel with the team (presumably to get more treatment on his sore knee). And, Julius Randle is listed as doubtful due to the hip pointer he played through on Tuesday. The Lakers without Russell are already climbing uphill. Without Randle? That’s climbing Everest in birkenstocks.

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Sometimes, it’s better to just post a highlight and celebrate a win.

To recap the play above, the Lakers, down one, ran their weave action to set up a play that was designed for Lou Williams. Nick Young, though, worked his way back to the ball, stepped in front of the pass to Lou, stole it, then fired a fading 25 footer that he drilled. Yes, that happened.

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After winning 5 of 6 games to push their record to 6-4, the Lakers have lost 3 of 4 to settle back in at .500 (7-7). Their recent skid is mostly about their defensive decline where they’ve surrendered points in bunches by defending poorly at the point of attack in isolation and in the P&R in the two man game while also continuing their trend of fouling shooters too often. The team has still been in games and continues to battle hard through the final buzzer, but the mistakes they have been making defensively have been the difference and need to be cleaned up.

Considering the types of issues the Lakers have been having defensively, tonight’s game against the Thunder and Russell Westbrook offer a difficult challenge. Westbrook’s ability to get downhill and to the rim is among the best in the league. His relentlessness in attacking is unparalleled and he must be accounted for early in possessions lest you want to see him finish above the rim. He will consistently threaten the paint and if the Lakers do not find a way to bandaid their defensive woes, Westbrook won’t just exploit them, he will drive a wedge into the fissure and crack their scheme wide open.

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