Ten observations from sitting on my couch and watching Lakers 132, Hawks 113. . . .
1. The Hawks suffered back-to-back blowout losses for the first time this season. After turnovers doomed them in Portland, poor transition defense buried them in the first half in Los Angeles. The Lakers are a young, quick team throughout the roster and the Hawks are not. The Lakers got the kind of game where they could exploit that advantage.
2. The Hawks showed a bit of life in the third quarter, when Kent Bazemore poured in 15 points. They got a 25-point deficit down to 13 in the fourth quarter before the Lakers ran out for some more transition scores to finish off the Hawks. We’ll see if the Hawks give a better effort against the Clippers tomorrow night or if the last two games are the start of a trend.
3. The Lakers had been awful lately with nine straight losses by an average margin of 14 points. LaVar Ball’s sharp criticism of coach Luke Walton was the latest controversy swirling around the franchise of perpetual drama. It looked like there might be more drama when the Lakers fell in an early hole against the Hawks as Dennis Schroder had his way.
4. Then the Lakers started running on the Hawks, and kept running until they had scored 28 fast break points while building a 66-48 halftime lead. The Lakers were sharp but the Hawks were caught unaware and flat-footed too many times. No team should be able to score in transition after nearly half of their defensive rebounds, as the Lakers did in the first half.
5. The Lakers play at the fastest pace in the league and rank second to Golden State in fast break points per 100 possessions (15). The Lakers rank 27th in offensive efficiency, so transition points really are the only good source of offense for them. Yet the Hawks constantly were slow to get back defensively. During a halftime interview, assistant coach Charles Lee told Fox Sports Southeast’s Andre Aldridge that the issues simply were about players relaxing and not sprinting back. That’s not a good look, especially after the Hawks just got drilled in Portland
6. Schroder (27 points on 23 shots, five assists, two turnovers,) created offense at all levels and was effective other than, as usual, driving too deep against bigs a couple of times.
7. After a sleepy game against the Blazers, John Collins was back to his usual activity and production: 15 points on seven shots, four rebounds, two blocks, three turnovers. Collins made his first 3-pointer of the season, on a nice feed in the right corner from Bazemore.
8. Taurean Prince left the game with a right hand injury in the first quarter when it appeared he banged it on Julius Randle’s hand while both reached for a rebound. The Hawks said Prince suffered a dislocated right ring finger. He returned to the game in the second quarter with a tape job and seemed to be fidgeting with the finger the rest of the night.
9. The starters had crisp ball movement during their initial run. It slowed down once the second unit took the court. The ball stuck on Malcolm Delaney’s side of the floor a few times as he looked for his shot. The reserves were better offensively in the second quarter but the Lakers were off and running by then.
10. The game was physical from the start because the officials allowed it. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer earned a technical foul in the first quarter after a no call on Ersan Ilyasova’s drive and Schroder’s attempt to draw a charge. Both looked like fouls to me. It was the fifth technical foul of the season for Budenholzer, who began the night tied for the third-most techs behind Lakers coach Like Walton and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra. Later in the period Julius Randle earned a technical after this play wasn’t called a foul.
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