As they have just learned that LeBron James must take a rest period to treat his sore left knee, the Lakers have suffered another frustrating loss during their “road trip” to the East, which is finally coming to an end.
And this time, it was the Hawks who managed to dominate the “Purple & Gold”, thanks to a superb fourth quarter, won with a score of 38-20. In the wake, also, of an excellent Trae Young (36 points, 5 rebounds, 12 assists), well supported by his interiors, Onyeka Okongwu in the lead.
Despite all the efforts of the trio Russell Westbrook – Malik Monk – Anthony Davis (80 points in total), Atlanta therefore won a seventh victory in a row and continued, above all, its rise in the standings in the East, while Los Angeles still remains out of the Top 8 in the West.
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
— Defenses remained in the locker room. Despite the very late schedule of this meeting (1 p.m. locally), the two teams made the powder speak in attack. On the one hand, the Hawks shot 58% on shots (!), while on the other, the Lakers posted 54% on shots and 42% from 3-pointers. Understand then that, overall, the defensive efforts were as non-existent as the “stops” at the State Farm Arena. What did not fail to appreciate the public of Atlanta, contrary to the amateurs of defense.
— Trae Young took responsibility. Like a maestro, the All-Star point guard (36 points, 5 rebounds, 12 assists) cut through the Lakers defense from start to finish. Both in the pass, to water his interior balloons under the circle, and in scoring, where his quality of shot, his ability to attract faults and his overflow speed did damage in the Californian house. And to top it off, “Ice Trae” allowed himself to condition the “Purple & Gold” in the “money-time”, with his “stepback”, 3-points, free throws and assists. A real boss game, then, from the conductor of Atlanta.
— A trio too lonely in Los Angeles. Still defeated, and gradually sinking into the negative, the Lakers were nevertheless able to rely on great performances from Russell Westbrook (20 points, 7 rebounds, 12 assists), Malik Monk (33 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) and Anthony Davis (27 points). Except that, behind the insolence of this triplet and unlike the Hawks, the “Purple & Gold” could not count on the regular contribution of one or two “role players”. In particular in the last quarter, where Frank Vogel’s men, running out of solutions, gradually lost their footing in front of the opposing zone defense.
✅ Onyeka Okongwu. The X factor of the game. Little used by Nate McMillan in the first three quarters, who for a long time preferred Clint Capela and John Collins, the 21-year-old pivot (16 points, 5 rebounds) then changed the course of the match in the last act. Served excessively on “pick-and-roll” by Lou Williams then Trae Young, the 6th choice of the 2020 Draft put California interiors through real hell, unable to contain him and resist his physical power. And if Atlanta was able to recover a deficit of 10 points in twelve minutes, the native of Los Angeles (+15 on his minutes) clearly has a lot to do with it.
✅ John Collins. Before Trae Young and Onyeka Okongwu took over to guide their team, the Hawks were first brilliantly launched by their titular strong winger, in a double-double (20 points and 11 rebounds, in just 26 minutes), very aggressive in the paint and who has committed very little waste offensively (10/13 on shots). Typically the kind of performance Atlanta needs from Collins, alongside Young.
⛔ Free throw skill. If, as said before, the defenses were struggling tonight, Hawks and Lakers also struggled to materialize their shots obtained. In total, the two teams have missed a whopping 22 attempts on the line (11 each). And in a game that has long seemed like it could go either way, so many missed free throws are expensive. It is not the players of Los Angeles who will say the opposite…
Atlanta (24-25) : “back-to-back” against Toronto, this Monday evening (01:30).
Los Angeles (25-26) : reception of Portland, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday (04:30).