Hawks dump defense-challenged Lakers

David Purdum, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- The return of guard Kobe Bryant hasn't helped the Los Angeles Lakers' defense.
The Atlanta Hawks hit 11 3-pointers and pulled away from the Lakers in the second half for a 114-100 win Monday at Philips Arena.
In his fifth game since returning from an Achilles injury, Bryant struggled throughout the night. He had six assists and five turnovers in the point guard role and finished with eight points on 4-of-14 shooting.
The Lakers (11-13) fell to 1-4 with Bryant on the court.
The Hawks (13-12) posted a season-high point total and took control in the third quarter against a short-handed Los Angeles team that ranks 29th in the NBA in points allowed. The Lakers are allowing an average of 108.2 points since Bryant returned.
Atlanta guard Kyle Korver missed his first five 3-point attempts before hitting three in the third quarter to extend his NBA record streak to 94 games with at least one made 3-pointer. Korver's 3-pointers also ignited a 17-2 run that helped the Hawks erase a halftime deficit and led them to a 70-62 lead midway through the third quarter. Atlanta was on top 82-73 heading into the fourth quarter.
"In the third quarter, I thought our aggressiveness and our intensity on the defensive end set the tone for a good second half," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "I thought the whole group responded in the second half. Great intensity, great aggressiveness. I think we played off of our defense. We moved the ball well. We found the open guy. That's how we want to play."
The Hawks extended their lead to double digits early in the fourth quarter and were never seriously threatened.
Six Atlanta players scored in double figures, led by center Al Horford, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Forward Paul Millsap added 18 points and nine rebounds.
The Hawks had 34 assists on 45 field goals, with point guard Jeff Teague handing out 10. The Lakers had 18 assists on 39 field goals.
"We struggled tonight on offense," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "At one point, the ball just stopped (moving). It would go to one side and would stay on that side. We did not compete in the second half the way (the Hawks) did."
The Lakers got off to a hot start, shooting 52.2 percent from the floor and jumping out to a 28-20 lead at the end of first quarter. They wore down in the second half.
Bryant is forced to play point guard with Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar all out due to injuries. Bryant, 35, turned the ball over 30 times in his five games back.
"We have to do a better job taking the burden off (Bryant)," D'Antoni said.
Bryant said his surgically repaired left foot stiffened up during the game.
"That's the next level of progression in playing these games," he said. "When you sit out and get back in, I need to keep it loose. I have to keep my eye on the big picture and focus on getting better."
Lakers forward Pau Gasol said of playing without a point guard, "That will continue to be a factor at least for another few games. Kobe has been a very good playmaker, and he's been sacrificing himself, which is not always easy when you have a guy picking you up (full court), because that makes you work extra hard. We just have to understand what we have to do out there and make good plays and get easier shots."
Forward Nick Young provided a spark off the Lakers' bench, finishing with a team-high 23 points, and center Jordan Hill added 21 points.
The Hawks' second unit was able to cut into the Lakers' lead early in the second quarter, but Los Angeles took a 54-47 lead into halftime.
"Guys may not play minutes, but when you come back, you're ready," said Hawks forward Elton Brand, who had eight points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench. "Tonight is showed. I think this is our best effort."
NOTES: Lakers G Kobe Bryant moved into sixth place on the NBA's all-time minutes list, passing Elvin Hayes. ... The Hawks recalled G Dennis Schroder from the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League. G Jared Cunningham was assigned to the Jam. ... The Lakers entered Monday's games leading the NBA in made 3-pointers per game at 10.0. ... Hawks PG Jeff Teague received a technical foul after expressing some frustration to an official while walking off the court at halftime. ... Hawks PF Gustavo Ayon missed his fourth straight game with ankle and leg injuries.

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