Hawks, Lakers come in hot for matinee

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The Atlanta Hawks arrive in L.A. riding a seven-game winning streak and looking to build on that momentum in a rare, 12:30 local time tip-off against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday afternoon.

The matchup against the Lakers is a start of an eight-game road trip out West for the Hawks.

Atlanta received a jolt since firing head coach Lloyd Pierce on March 1 and replacing him with assistant coach Nate McMillan; the Hawks are 7-0 with the veteran NBA coach leading them.

The Hawks' seven-game win streak is the longest in the NBA and Atlanta's longest win streak since it also won seven straight in January 2017.

"We just take it one game at a time," McMillan said, when asked about the win streak. "We try to be better the next time out. ... This is going to be a tight race in the second half of the season. Every game is a big game, and you have to lock in and try to take advantage of every game that you play down the stretch."

Atlanta's trek to the West Coast also will be guard Rajon Rondo's first trip back to Los Angeles playing against his former team since the Lakers won the NBA championship in the Orlando bubble last year.

Earlier this season, the Lakers defeated the Hawks in Atlanta, 107-99 on Feb. 1.

Point guard Trae Young remains the catalyst for the Hawks, averaging 25.9 points and 9.4 assists a game. The Hawks also got a boost defensively from the return of center Clint Capela, who had eight points and eight rebounds in Thursday's 116-93 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Capela had missed two games with left heel soreness.

Like the Hawks, the Lakers are playing well right now, riding a four-game winning streak since the All-Star break.

More impressive, the Lakers have done it without starters Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol.

Davis has missed the last 13 games with a right calf strain. He's started weight training and light work, and the Lakers will re-evaluate Davis' potential availability at the end of the month. The Lakers are 11-7 this season with Davis not in the lineup.

Gasol has missed the last six games due to the NBA's health and safety protocols. Gasol was cleared to come out of isolation but remains in the NBA's health and safety protocols. He could be available for Saturday's game against Atlanta.

With Davis and Gasol unavailable, the Lakers have relied on more scoring punch from their bench players such as Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Talen Horton-Tucker. That trio has combined for an average of 50 points a contest during the month of March.

Along with those three, James continues to play at a high level. The 36-year-old has two triple-doubles over the last three games and is averaging 28 points, nine assists and 7.6 rebounds a contest in the month of March.

Even though the Lakers are 1 1/2 games behind the top-seeded Jazz in the Western Conference, James said his team isn't focused on overtaking Utah -- yet.

"We haven't really talked about it," James said. "If it gets to a point where we can capture it, then why not? But we haven't really talked about it at all. We haven't talked about seeding all year.

"We just talk about playing championship basketball, through wins and through losses -- whatever the case may be. That's what we talk about. We want to continue to get better, and we've gotten better since the break. But the most important things for our ballclub is two things: playing championship basketball every night and staying healthy."

--Field Level Media