Finally, the Lakers are at the end of their four-game road trip. The Lakers have lost three tough games against the Jazz, Thunder and Pacers. This game read just like the past few game, the Lakers were able to stay close, but the lack of experience/execution killed them in the fourth quarter.
Head coach Luke Walton even questioned the team’s effort to start the game wondering how the team could come out so sluggish after two straight losses. Things don’t get any easier for the Lakers as they travel to Atlanta to face the Hawks.
The Hawks have started the season hot, beatingthe Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, and Washington Wizards by an average of 19.3 points. The Hawks have a couple of important changes from last season. They signed Dwight Howard to replace Al Horford, and they traded away Jeff Teague and promoted Dennis Schroder in the starting lineup.
The Lakers hope to go to Atlanta and finish their road trip with a win.
The Atlanta Hawks’ starting backcourt consists of Dennis Schroder and Kyle Korver. Schroder is a quick point guard that looks to attack the basket and does a lot of his work through penetration and getting in the paint. He is also shooting 40% from three point land but that is much higher than his career average so it will be worth seeing if he can keep up that rate.
Korver is well known as one of the NBA’s deadliest shooters. He is a player that will set up camp behind the three point arc and will kill you if leave him open. He also runs off a lot of screens so whoever is guarding him will have to stick tight to his side. Nick Young will likely get that assignment so he will need to keep his focus there, while also trying to regain his form from the preseason.
For the Lakers D’Angelo Russell will have to really step it up and be a significant contributor if they hope to win the game. Russell will have to be aggressive offensively and defensively, but he needs to do so without fouling as he seems to get out of rhythm when he goes out early. Jordan Clarkson also has yet to look as good as he did in the season opener. The young guards have struggled on the road so far.
The Atlanta Hawks have Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap and former Laker Kent Bazemore as their starting frontcourt.
Howard has posted a solid stat line of 10.3 points and 12.3 rebounds at the start of this young season, but is only attempting seven shots per game. Howard gives the Hawks a different look from Horford as he is a pick and roll big, who does not stretch the floor. Howard is also a big presence on the defensive end as a rim protector.
Howard fits in well with Millsap who remains the Hawks’ best player. Millsap can stretch the floor, play in the post, be a productive big in the pick and roll and is a good defender. Millsap is averaging 19.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and six assists so far this season, showing he is still one of the best all-around forwards in the game..
Since the Lakers will be without Timofey Mozgov thanks to a left eye contusion suffered yesterday, the Lakers will likely move Tarik Black into the starting lineup to match-up with Howard. This also means either Thomas Robinson or Ivica Zubac will be active for this game and will see some time as well.
Randle will have the toughest task of the night as he will try to contain Millsap. Randle struggled with fouls last night so he will have to get that in order. Larry Nance Jr. will also see some time on Millsap as well in hopes that his length and athleticism will bother the All-Star.
Lastly, Luol Deng will need to continue his solid play against Bazemore. Bazemore is a great defender and good athlete so Deng must make sure he doesn’t get going as his energy will quickly rub off on the rest of the team.
Keys to Victory:
Bring the effort: If the Lakers can come out and play with the energy they played with in the second half of the Pacers game, they will put themselves in a position to win. The Lakers need to break the habit of coming out of the gates slow and having to claw back from a deficit.
Play defense without fouling: Playing good defense and fouling go together like water and oil. Already in this young season, the Lakers are giving games away because they are sending teams to the foul line. The combination of putting teams in the bonus, and hurting their own rotations because of foul issues is killing the Lakers.
Los Angeles Lakers (1-3) Vs. Atlanta Hawks (3-0)
4:30 P.M. PST, November 2, 2016
Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Hawks Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Kyle Korver
SF: Kent Bazemore
PF: Paul Millsap
C: Dwight Howard
Key Reserves: Thabo Sefolosha, Tim Hardaway Jr., Kris Humphries, Mike Scott
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Nick Young
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Julius Randle
C: Ivica Zubac
Key Reserves: Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Lou Williams, Jose Calderon