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Hawks drop close-fought contest to Lakers, 101-96

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Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks hosted the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday evening, looking to knock off LeBron James and the current No. 1 seed in the Western Conference after a failed comeback attempt Friday night against the Indiana Pacers.

The Hawks were competitive early, as the teams were tied at nine around five minutes into play.

Trae Young was heavily involved from the jump with five points and one assist in the opening moments.

Overall, it was a slow start offensively for both teams, as the score was tied at 15 with 3:16 remaining in the first quarter.

Kevin Huerter hit a three-pointer to give Atlanta a 23-22 lead late in the first, and ultimately the Hawks led 25-24 heading into the second period.

The second quarter was played tightly as well, with the Hawks trailing just 33-32 with 7:22 left in the first half.

The Lakers began to somewhat take control around the 6:30 mark, when LeBron James shook Peachtree to its core.

A three-point play from Young cut it back to 43-39 in favor of the Lakers with 2:32 remaining in the second quarter.

James hit a three-pointer with 1.4 left in the second quarter to close out what was a 23-point first half, putting the Lakers up 55-48 over the Hawks at the half. Young finished the half with 14 points, four assists and two steals for Atlanta.

The Hawks came out feisty again in the third quarter, going on a 7-0 run to tie the score at 55 in the first two minutes of play.

The Lakers responded with a 12-1 run in the ensuing moments to regain an 11-point edge by the 5:40 mark of the third. The Hawks continued to hang around late into the third, however, as they trailed just 75-69 with 2:31 left in the quarter.

A three-pointer from Cam Reddish made it a four-point game with under 1:30 remaining before the final period.

Moments later a pull-up fadeaway jumper from Vince Carter pushed the Atlanta run to 7-0 and cut the score to 78-76 in favor of Los Angeles.

The Hawks trailed the Lakers 82-78 heading to the fourth. While they could not stop the Lakers in the paint, they did hold the Lakers to 3-of-22 from three-point-range in the first three quarters and forced 19 turnovers to keep themselves in the game.

After falling down by eight early in the fourth, De’Andre Hunter knocked down a three to make it 90-85 Lakers with 8:00 remaining in regulation.

The Hawks still trailed by just five with under 4:20 remaining until Anthony Davis scored on an and-one lay in to make it 97-89 with 4:14 to go.

Young hit a three to cut it back to five on the ensuing possession.

After a sloppy couple of minutes on both sides, the Hawks still trailed 97-92 with just 2:17 to play, with Young at the line. Young made both, cutting to 97-94.

On Atlanta’s next possession, Hunter drove to the rim and got fouled with 19.8 remaining, with the Lakers ahead 98-94. Hunter made both free throws cutting it to 98-96. James was then fouled on the inbound and went to the free throw line with 15.2 seconds left.

James split the free throws, making it 99-96. Lloyd Pierce took a timeout to draw something up and advance the ball.

Carter hit Reddish in the corner for a wide open three-point look from the corner, but it was off the mark, and Danny Green was fouled on the rebound with 5.5 second left. Green made both, making it 101-96. The Hawks were basically beat from there, as Young missed a three at the buzzer.

James finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks and a steal in the win, propelling the Lakers to an astounding 24-3 start to the season. Davis added 27 points and 13 rebounds in what was another strong performance for the former Kentucky Wildcat.

Young scored 30 points to along with 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Jabari Parker added 12 points while Reddish had 10 points of his own.

However, the Hawks’ encouraging performance will be tainted by the apparent re-aggravation of Kevin Huerter’s left shoulder injury early in the fourth quarter as he fought for position underneath the basket:

Huerter went to the locker-room before being ruled out for the remainder of the game, though Lloyd Pierce is optimistic that it’s nothing too serious.

The Hawks will be back in action Tuesday night from Madison Square Garden for a contest against the struggling New York Knicks.