Hawks-Lakers Preview

The Associated Press

Although the Los Angeles Lakers have struggled since a promising opener, they haven't had much trouble lately when they've hosted the Atlanta Hawks.

New-look Los Angeles hopes to avoid a third straight loss Sunday night when its tries to beat the Hawks for the eighth consecutive time at home.

Without Kobe Bryant, the Lakers (1-2) opened a season with modest expectations in stunning fashion Tuesday when they pulled out a 116-103 victory over a Los Angeles Clippers team with NBA title hopes.

The Lakers shot 45.2 percent from the field and hit 14 of 29 from 3-point range in that contest, but weren't able to find a rhythm offensively in losses to 2012-13 playoff teams Golden State and San Antonio.

After shooting 39.3 percent from the floor in Wednesday's 125-94 loss to the Warriors, they connected on 36.6 percent and just 8 of 27 from beyond the arc in Friday's 91-85 defeat to a visiting Spurs team that was missing Tim Duncan.

''I think we know each other, but we definitely need a little more time,'' said guard Jordan Farmar, who had seven points. ''We're out there competing, trying to get it done.

"It's a work in progress. It's a long season, and there's going to be growing pains until we find our groove.''

Since pouring in a game-high 22 to help stun the Clippers, Xavier Henry has totaled 17 points on 4-of-17 shooting. He should be fine after getting a two-inch cut on his forehead that needed nine stitches when he was accidentally kicked against the Spurs.

Jodie Meeks is averaging 13.7 points on 52.0 percent shooting while helping fill in for Bryant, who is making steady progress in his recovery from a torn Achilles but is still weeks away from a return.

Atlanta nearly ended its skid in Los Angeles on March 3 when it came back from a 16-point second-half deficit before Bryant hit the go-ahead layup with 9 seconds left for a 99-98 victory.

Now the Lakers will try to beat the Hawks for the 21st time in 24 home meetings.

After dropping its opener 118-109 in Dallas, Atlanta (1-1) gave Mike Budenholzer his first victory as an NBA head coach by beating Toronto 102-95 in Friday's home debut.

''It's a good feeling,'' said Budenholzer, a long-time assistant in San Antonio. ''But I mostly feel good for our group because of how hard they've worked for the entire coaching staff.''

Budenholzer's club, shooting 47.7 percent from the field, hopes to keep improving defensively after putting up a slightly better effort against the Raptors. The Hawks allowed Toronto to shoot 45.5 percent from the field and hit 7 of 23 from 3-point range after Dallas had made 44 of 77 shots (57.1 percent), including 11 of 24 3-pointers.

Jeff Teague played well with 41 points and 21 assists in the first two games, while Paul Millsap has filled in nicely for the departed Josh Smith with 35 points on 16-of-27 shooting.

Al Horford bounced back from a quiet opener with 22 points and 16 rebounds Friday. In the most recent meeting, Horford had 14 points and 14 boards in a 96-92 home win over the Lakers on March 13.