LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 14: Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks shoots over Pau Gasol #16 and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on February 14, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 86-78. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
I am not sure what is worse. A blow out loss to Miami or a missed opportunity in Los Angeles? On one hand you can look at the Atlanta Hawks 86-78 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers and see all kinds of silver linings. On the other hand we shouldn't consider the team playing hard and competing a silver lining. We should expect that on a nightly basis.
Atlanta squandered an opportunity to break a long losing streak in Los Angeles thanks in large part to offensive ineptitude and untimely turnovers. The Hawks were good enough defensively to pull out a win over the Lakers. Atlanta held Kobe Bryant to a season-low 10 points and somewhat slowed down Andrew Bynum in the second half after he dominated early on.
This time around Atlanta's offensive failings didn't hinge on missed jump shots. They weren't exactly proficient from long range either but they missed 12 of 20 attempts at the basket including seven straight in the third quarter that would have no doubt altered the remainder of the game.
Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined for 35 points and 28 rebounds but 16 of those combined points and seven of those rebounds came in the first quarter. Midway through the first, Larry Drew sent the newly acquired Erick Dampier into the game for Zaza Pachulia. Dampier had some success pushing Bynum off the block and ended up playing 13 minutes in the first half. For the game Dampier finished with four rebounds, one steal and one block in just over 16 minutes.
Atlanta used an 11-0 run in the second quarter to take a 41-38 lead with 1:04 remaining. Metta World Peace hit a three with just 2.3 seconds remaining in the half to put Los Angeles back in front 42-41. Atlanta scored just 10 points in that ill-fated third quarter but still only trailed 59-51 heading to the fourth. Had they been able to cash in on some of their looks from point blank range then things likely could have been different.
Jeff Teague ended up leading the Hawks in scoring with 18 points but wasn't nearly the factor that he could have been. As expected, the Lakers point guards struggled to keep Teague out of the paint but he had a hard time converting at the rim and finished just 6-16 from the field.
Josh Smith scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half and essentially took his game to the perimeter in the second half. Smith finished 7-18 from the field and had nine rebounds to go along with three blocks and two steals. Joe Johnson finished with 17 points and five assists but wasn't exactly a reliable option for the Hawks either finishing 7-17 from the field and 1-8 from three-point range.
Zaza Pachulia played much better defensively in the second half but was no factor offensively finishing with one point, nine rebounds and four steals. Pachulia played just under seven minutes in the first half so credit him for staying engaged and mixing it up in the second.
Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 20 points and 13 rebounds while Bynum finished with 15 and 15. Atlanta actually did a pretty good job on Kobe Bryant holding him to just 5-18 shooting for just 10 points. Metta World Peace and rookie Andrew Goudelock added 10 points each.