The Atlanta Hawks (18-43) played host to the Los Angeles Lakers (26-34) Monday night in a matchup between two of the NBA’s growing crop of rebuilding franchises. Atlanta came into the night looking to snap a three game losing streak, while Los Angeles aimed for their seventh win in their past ten games.
John Collins, Taurean Prince, Dewayne Dedmon, Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schröder started for the Hawks. Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Josh Hart made starts for Los Angeles.
Prior to the game, Ersan Ilyasova was bought out and officially waived by Atlanta and he is expected to join former Atlanta teammate Marco Belinelli with the Philadelphia 76ers on a minimum contract through the rest of this season. The much anticipated buyout is finally complete. Best of luck, Ersan.
DeAndre’ Bembry (abdominal strain), Tyler Cavanaugh (right ankle sprain) and Malcolm Delaney (right knee strain) were unavailable to play due to injury.
Lonzo Ball made his second appearance since returning from a knee injury off the bench. Kyle Kuzma and Isaiah Thomas also came off the bench for Los Angeles.
The Lakers began the game on a 7-0 run, controlling pace early although they were a bit sloppy with the ball in the process. Atlanta battled back to take the lead at a couple different points, but Los Angeles closed the quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 28-22 lead heading into the second. Randle dominated the paint down low, playing all 12 minutes posting 12 points and three rebounds in the first period.
Ball found Kuzma for a quick corner three to start the second, triggering another Laker run as Los Angeles dominated the entire quarter behind great three point shooting as a team, including eight points from Ball (2-for-2 from three-point range in the period). The Lakers started the quarter six-for-seven from the three point line as a unit and led 64-46 at the half despite 14 first half turnovers.
The offense improved in the third for Atlanta, but the quarter was mostly dominated by Ingram who scored 15 points in the period. Schröder scored 10 points of his own but the Lakers still outscored the Hawks 32-29 and entered the fourth with a 21 point lead, 96-75.
The final period was also close, and the only quarter the Hawks outscored the Lakers in. However, Atlanta was never able to slow down Los Angeles for long enough to mount a substantial run. Isaiah Taylor provided solid minutes off the bench in the second half again tonight but it was not enough as the Hawks ultimately lost 123-104 despite 23 turnovers by the Lakers.
Ingram finished with 21 points, ten rebounds, six assists and three blocks. Randle also had a double-double with 19 points and ten rebounds while Ball added 13 points (4-for-4 from the field, 3-for-3 on three-pointers) along with with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Los Angeles had nine players score in double figures and out rebounded Atlanta 59-41 in the contest. “We take it very personal,” John Collins said about the rebounding disparity. “You never like to get beat on the boards, especially as a big guy. It’s incentive for me, Dewayne, Miles and Musky to try to go out there next game and grab as many boards as we can.”
Prince scored 24 points on 7-for-18 shooting from the field with four three-pointers. Schröder added 20 points of his own and Taylor had 16 points and 4 assists in 20 minutes off the bench.
“First off, I think everybody competed tonight on our team,” Schroder indicated. “Coach told us to compete every game for 48 minutes, and I think we did that. They played well in the first half. They hit some shots. In the second half, I think they did the same. We have to give them credit for that.”
Earlier, Mike Budenholzer echoed the same sentiment concerning the team’s performance.
“I thought our effort, our spirit for 48 minutes - considering we kind of got it taken to us tonight - I still thought the effort was pretty good,” the head coach said. “The spirit was good. We just didn’t make enough shots. We didn’t get enough stops in the first half. In the second half, we kind of played them even. We had too big a hole. We’ll get better. Guys have to individually play a little bit better, and collectively we have to play better.”
Beyond that, Budenholzer wasn’t willing to blame the team’s roster changes for any issues on the floor.
“It’s tough when you’re wanting to have team success,” he said plainly. “But we’re growing. Even though tonight didn’t feel like it, again the Lakers played well, I feel like some of our guys are getting better individually on some of the things we’re wanting them to work on. Different guys are getting opportunities.”
Atlanta will be back in action Wednesday night at 7:30 EST to continue the home-stand against Victor Oladipo, Lance Stephenson and the Indiana Pacers. The Hawks will face Indiana for the second time in six days after losing 116-93 last Friday in Indy. The Pacers are also coming off a Monday night loss, when they fell 109-103 to the Mavericks in Dallas.