Hawks, 96, Lakers 92

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- The Los Angeles Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks -- both fighting for playoff position and both playing for the second consecutive night -- played a tough, physical game Wednesday night at Philips Arena. The Hawks, down two starters, outlasted the Lakers 96-92, despite a 3-point shot by Kobe Bryant with 18 seconds left.
Al Horford, in the absence of the injured Josh Smith, set the tone for the Hawks at both ends of the court. He scored 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, the final one with 33 seconds left in the game.
Devin Harris, starting at point guard for the injured Jeff Teague, had only eight points through three quarters, but scored nine straight midway through the fourth quarter to finish with 17 points.
Bryant, scoreless in the first quarter and up to only three points by half-time -- he didn't get his first points until a driving layup at 2:58 of the second quarter, then added a free throw with 12 seconds before intermission -- made his move in the third quarter, scoring 20 points. But he couldn't sustain the surge and finished with 31 points. He missed a jump shot with 3.9 seconds left that would have tied the game.
Metta World Peace scored 20 points and had eight rebounds for The Lakers (34-32). Steve Nash added 11 points and Howard, who picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter, had 16 rebounds to go with 10 points.
The Hawks came into the game having lost three straight and six of last seven. The Lakers had won four straight.
Both teams played Tuesday night and traveled, which translated into early air balls on both sides. But once Horford and Howard jammed huge dunks within 18 seconds of each other at 8: 28 (Howard) and 8:10 (Horford), the teams settled down.
The Hawks (35-29) led by as many as 14 points and were up 55-43 after the first half. The Hawks bench made an immediate impact once they started filtering in.
Ivan Johnson had 12 points and eight rebounds. Kyle Korver scored 15 points and John Jenkins added 12. Johan Petro had 10 points and 11 rebounds, his first double-double in three years.
NOTES: Hawks coach Larry Drew wasn't expecting to have Zaza Pachulia back -- Pachulia is getting a second opinion on his sore right Achilles -- but he didn't think he'd be dealing with injuries to two other starters. Jeff Teague tried moving on the left ankle he sprained in Tuesday's 98-81 loss to the Heat in Miami but couldn't do it well enough to go. Josh Smith sprained his left knee in that game and did not play. ... Drew says that given the state of his players' health and the schedule, he's going to have to take more care not to run guys into the ground at practice and give them more time off. ... Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni wasn't going for the idea that the Hawks' latest injuries made his team's task easier. "It doesn't change anything," he said. "It's all about we need to do what we do." ... Asked what he thought of the strategy of putting Howard on the free-throw line an NBA record-tying 39 times in Tuesday night's 106-97 win over the Magic in Orlando, D'Antoni said, "We're in the entertainment business. That's not entertaining." Then he added, chuckling, "I've tried it. I'm kind of like if I can't beat you ... I understand why they do it."

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