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Hawks outlast Lakers in 117-113 victory

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A fun one in Atlanta.

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

The Atlanta Hawks entered Tuesday night’s game in the midst of a three-game losing streak and, to put it bluntly, the team didn’t operate at a high level in any of the defeats. On cue, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers arrived for their one and only visit to State Farm Arena this season and, in Atlanta’s first game without Jeremy Lin, the Hawks entered as significant underdogs. 48 minutes later, however, the home team emerged victorious by a final score of 117-113.

The Lakers controlled the pace early, using a 7-0 run to take a 14-8 lead. Atlanta’s offense was just warming up, however, and things started to click in short order.

Trae Young got off to a slow start in missing his first four shots but the rookie guard generated four assists in the first seven minutes and began knocking down shots of his own.

The Hawks scored eight points in 55 seconds, including five from Young, to take a 24-23 lead and, later in the period, Atlanta put together an even more impressive run. The home team bombed away from three while scoring 11 straight points and, when the dust settled, the Hawks led 38-28.

The Lakers did score the final four points of the quarter but the story was Atlanta’s long-range shooting. Four players converted two or more threes and, as a team, the Hawks tied a franchise record with 10 (!) threes in the first 12 minutes.

As you may imagine, the second quarter wasn’t as forgiving, but Kent Bazemore did produce a highlight-worthy play on the defensive end in the early going.

The Lakers made their run, though, scoring eight straight points to get within a 43-42 margin and later taking a lead of their own. Atlanta’s shooting (predictably) cooled to the tune of an 0-for-6 three-point mark in the second quarter and, after turning the ball over only once in the first quarter, the Hawks committed nine costly giveaways in the second.

It should be noted that there were bright spots, including the passing wizardry of Young, who finished the first half with eight assists.

Still, the Hawks were in a four-point hole as the third quarter opened and that couldn’t feel great for Lloyd Pierce after his team led by double figures in the opening frame. On the bright side, things started favorably in the third quarter, with a 7-0 run to give Atlanta the lead and an exclamation point from Young and Kevin Huerter.

The Lakers did battle back and, for the most part, the third quarter was a back-and-forth affair. There was some obscene passing on display, however, and Omari Spellman got into the act with a dunk.

The Hawks eventually took a five-point lead into the fourth quarter, with help from back-to-back threes from Young and Bazemore at a key moment in the third. Atlanta quickly pushed that advantage to eight points within the first three minutes, with help from Young blowing past James for a layup in the half court.

The home team then survived a three-minute stretch without Young on the floor, leading by as many as nine points and generally controlling the action. With 3:19 to go, the Hawks led by seven points at a timeout and were in a favorable position, based in part on the Lakers’ inability to score to that point in the closing period.

There were plenty of fireworks, though, as the Lakers cut the margin to four with 2:14 to play. From there, Taurean Prince connected on a three and, after a dunk from James, Young was able to put in a lay-up to put the Hawks back up by seven with 1:28 to play.

The rookie did miss a free throw (after drawing the foul) but Atlanta gathered the rebound and Young had a chance at a dagger. It didn’t fall but after an empty trip from the Lakers, the final result was all but secure. Eventually, the Hawks put the game away to the tune of a four-point win and it was certainly an experience as Atlanta nearly allowed Los Angeles to steal it with a wild comeback.

Young was Atlanta’s engine on this night, finishing with 22 points, 14 assists and six rebounds in 38 minutes. Collins added 22 points and eight rebounds in support, and he was joined by Prince (17 points, six rebounds), Vince Carter (11 points) and Alex Len (11 points) in producing strong results.

The Hawks will return to action on Thursday against the New York Knicks in the team’s final game before the All-Star break. Stay tuned.