When you see the Lakers on the calendar this season, it should be looked at as a pretty easy win.
Combine that with Los Angeles missing its' top three scorers -- Kobe Bryant, Jordan Clarkson, and Lou Williams -- and it should like a sure bet for a stress-free blowout.
The Hawks were able to do just that for the most part on Friday night with a convincing 106-77 win over the Lakers at Staples Center.
Los Angeles did have a few opportunities early in the fourth quarter to cut the lead into single digits, but after a Brandon Bass free throw made it 78-66 with 9:06 remaining, Atlanta went on a 28-11 run to end the game with a comfortable margin.
The main story of the night was Kris Humphries taking the floor for the first time as a Hawk. Humphries made his second impressive debut for a team in the past month -- he had a double-double for the Suns after he was involved in the Markieff Morris to Washington deal. He didn't quite total a double-double for Atlanta, but he finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. He was a team-high +26 on the floor and even showed his newly added range with a three-pointer in the first half. In a very small sample size against a very bad team, Humphries flashed some signs of what he could provide the Hawks -- an active rebounder in the second unit that can stretch the floor offensively.
Kyle Korver was effective in the game, knocking down all four of his three-point attempts and finishing 5-6 from the field for 15 points in 29 minutes. He also added five rebounds, three assists, and a +25 on the floor to lead all starters. Korver showed some improved shooting at times in February, but, more than ever, Korver's confidence in his shooting stroke looks to be the highest it has been all year, and the form itself looks to be very close to what it was a season ago.
The Hawks had six players in double figures, with Dennis Schroder leading the group with 16 points on 6-10 shooting. Atlanta's 31 assists are the eighth most in a game this season. In the 17 games the Hawks have totaled at least 29 assists this season, they're 13-4 with just one loss coming in regulation.
The Hawks also had just 10 turnovers against the Lakers, which is the third fewest of the season. Atlanta is 14-3 on the year when turning the ball over 12 times or less in a game. At 54.4 percent from the field and 46.4 percent from three-point range, the Hawks notched their fourth best effort from the field and seventh best effort from deep, making it one of the most complete games of the season.
The Hawks' defense was also solid, as the Lakers' 77 points is the second fewest allowed by Atlanta -- Charlotte's 76 on Sunday is the fewest. D'Angelo Russell had been on a tear of late -- scoring at least 22 points in four straight games -- but he was held to just seven points on 3-16 shooting on Friday. The Lakers trailed the entire contest after Paul Millsap's three-pointer with 2:39 remaining in the first quarter gave the Hawks a 19-16 lead.
It was a satisfying effort by the Hawks in a game that could've shown a lack of effort due to playing a bad team on the West Coast with its' three leading scorers out. Instead, Atlanta played strong defense and moved the ball well offensively for most of the game. With a much better Clippers team looming in the same arena for a matchup on Saturday night, the Hawks will look to replicate their strong performance for a much-needed win against a quality opponent in the west.