Hawks 94, Lakers 93
ATLANTA (AP)—Jason Terry threw the ball into the stands, and his jersey and headband soon followed.
Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ leading scorer, was in Colorado for a closed hearing in the sexual assault case against him. It was the first time this season he missed a game when healthy; he sat out 14 others with various injuries.
Los Angeles is 7-8 without him.
“Without Kobe, we should have proved something,” Payton said. “He has been pushing us. If he had been here, he would have given us more energy. I didn’t play, Shaq didn’t play.
“This is a lesson for us. We have to be focused and ready to play. We didn’t play basketball at all.”
O’Neal left without speaking with reporters.
“We’ve just got a bunch of guys making the most of their chances,” Crawford said. “I think we all know we can play in this league, and we’re just now getting our chances.”
After Terry’s free throw, Payton missed a runner in the lane and O’Neal sent a tip wide. Wesley Person grabbed the rebound, and Atlanta had its improbable upset.
Terry finished with 23 points and Stephen Jackson added 13 for the Hawks, who won for only the second time in seven games.
O’Neal and Payton each scored 23 for the Lakers, and Kareem Rush, who replaced Bryant in the starting lineup, added 14.
“We lost to a team that’s had a lot of change in the last month and a half,” Lakers forward Rick Fox said. “Right now, they’re in the midst of winding their season down by trying to find out who they have left.
“In our case, we felt we should come in here and win the game. But you have to still play it.”
The frantic finish featured six lead changes over the final 2:38, with Los Angeles unable to overcome a 13-for-22 performance at the free throw line. Payton missed two down the stretch, and Rush made only one of two with 1:06 left to put the Lakers ahead 93-91.
Terry responded with a 15-foot jumper over O’Neal to tie it, and Los Angeles curiously went to Devean George on the next possession.
His shot was blocked by Przybilla, and Person corralled the rebound. The Hawks eschewed a timeout, and Terry was fouled by Rush on a drive. He missed the first free throw but swished the second cleanly through.
“This is very satisfying,” Terry said. “This team has been through so much the past three or four years. It was an incredible win for us.”
Przybilla grabbed 14 rebounds—one shy of his career-high set in Atlanta’s previous game against Orlando—and Crawford had 13 points, including a run of seven consecutive points in the third quarter.
Reserve Bob Sura finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists, all while playing the second half with a dislocated finger on his left hand. Against the Magic on Saturday night, he got three stitches for a split lip.
“Hopefully, I’ll start healing up a little bit,” he quipped.
Lakers F Karl Malone, out for the past 35 games with a sprained ligament in his right knee, said he hopes to return Monday night in Utah. … The seventh sellout of the season—and the second straight—was on hand to watch the game. With LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers coming to town next week, the Hawks could have three straight sellouts. Still, they’re last inthe league in attendance.