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.