The Lakers entered tonight’s game looking to rebound after an embarrassing loss at the hands of the Mavericks last Friday, and that is exactly what they did, beating Atlanta 118-110. A sloppy defensive performance in the first half was tightened up after the break as the Lakers locked down defensively in the third, propelling them to an exciting win and helping them avoid falling under .500 for the first time since early 2007. The Lakers will look to start a winning streak as they hit the road for their first trip of the season, which starts in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, where a date with the young Thunder awaits.
First Quarter: LAL 27 ATL 25
The first quarter started very similar to the way the Dallas game ended on Friday night, and that was not a good sign for Lakers fans. A slow start resulted in a few groans from the Staples crowd, especially after Joe Johnson lit up the Lakers for eighteen points in the first quarter. The Lakers defense was slow getting to the ball, resulting in plenty of open shots for the sharpshooting Hawks. Luckily for Los Angeles their offense was a little more lively, and able to match Atlanta point for point in the first. It was certainly a back and forth first quarter with very little defense and a whole lot of Joe Johnson. A short run at the end of the first, however, resulted in a two point Lakers lead at the end of the first
Second Quarter: LAL 37 ATL 33
Very similar to the first quarter in a lot of regards, very spotty defense and a lot of open shots. The Lakers bench played very well in the second, including quality minutes from Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar. Perhaps the biggest move of the second quarter, however, came when Phil Jackson switched Ron Artest onto Joe Johnson defensively, which really slowed Johnson down. This allowed the Lakers a little more comfort defensively, although the defensive effort was still not what Phil and the Lakers coaching staff really want. However, another run towards the end of the quarter allowed the Lakers to head to the locker rooms with a six point lead.
Third Quarter: LAL 34 ATL 18
The third quarter was probably the best twelve minutes the Lakers have played so far this season. A close game at halftime became a runaway train by the end of the third, as the Lakers asserted themselves both on the offensive and defensive end of the floor. Bryant established his game on the offensive side of the court, along with some help from Lamar Odom and Ron Artest. Odom and Artest both had very well rounded performances in tonight’s game, with Odom flirting with a triple double. A 16-0 run halfway through the quarter gave the Lakers an advantage they would never relinquish.
Fourth Quarter: LAL 20 ATL 34
While the game was all but over entering the fourth, Atlanta proved they aren’t the Hawks of old with a run that made the game close again. After Phil had already benched all his starters hoping the reserves could finish the job, Atlanta took advantage of several Lakers turnovers and sloppy play to make the game interesting again. An enraged Jackson sent his starting five back in to finish the game out, and that is exactly what they did. Led by Kobe Bryant and his 41 points, the Lakers closed the deal and headed out on the road with a 2-1 record. Bryant’s 41 led the way offensively for Los Angeles, but a big contribution from Andrew Bynum came in the form of 21 points on 8-14 shooting. A solid, well-rounded performance helped the Lakers get rid of the bitter taste that had been lingering since the Friday night loss to Dallas.