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Defense implodes as Hawks fall to Lakers, 123-104

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Another ugly loss.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After a thoroughly uninspiring performance in the first game after the All-Star break, the Atlanta Hawks aimed to right the ship against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday at Philips Arena. However, things flew off the rails with haste in the first half and, at the end of 48 minutes, the team suffered its fourth consecutive loss by a final score of 123-104.

The Lakers opened the evening on a 7-0 run and, after the Hawks provided some level of stability with improved defensive effort later in the first quarter, things deteriorated quickly. Los Angeles later used a 10-0 run near the close of the period and the second quarter was more of the same.

Atlanta was unable to contain Los Angeles on the defensive end, with the Lakers converting 59 percent of their field goal attempts and 10 of 18 attempts from three-point range (56 percent) before halftime. That combination was dire in many ways but, offensively, the Hawks also struggled mightily, scuffling to the tune of 28 percent shooting and an unsightly 3 of 17 from beyond the arc.

At the half, the home team trailed by 18 points and, individually, there was little to take solace in over the first 24 minutes of play. Following the break, brief signs of optimism appeared but, on the whole, it was more of the same.

The Lakers scored the first seven points of the third quarter, opening a 25-point lead and seemingly assuring victory. On cue, the Hawks responded with 11 straight points of their own and, eventually, slashed the lead to as few as 12 points.

However, the visitors then scored eight straight to push the margin back to 20 and, within seconds, it was a 25-point game again and the lights were effectively dimmed.

Individually, Taurean Prince (24 points) and Dennis Schroder (20 points) led the way for Atlanta, though Prince struggled with efficiency and defensive effort. From a team standpoint, the defense was both mistake-prone and inconsistent throughout the evening and, even with plenty of garbage time in the final minutes, the Lakers produced a 111.1 offensive rating (and 52 percent shooting) over the course of the evening.

After a day off on Tuesday, the Hawks are back in action on Wednesday evening at Philips Arena in a rematch with the Indiana Pacers. Stay tuned.