GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Atlanta Hawks 15 18 21 26 80
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 28 26 26 24 104


Lakers end 3-game skid, blow out Hawks 104-80

By GREG BEACHAM

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Pau Gasol understands why many people outside the Lakers' locker room panicked when Los Angeles stumbled into the All-Star break with a loss to miserable Cleveland.

The big man thinks everybody should just calm down. He hopes the Lakers' sharp return against Atlanta reminds the worriers what the two-time defending champions still can do when they're paying attention.

All-Star game MVP Kobe Bryant scored 20 points, Gasol added 14 points and 10 rebounds, and the Lakers easily ended their three-game skid with a 104-80 victory over the struggling Hawks on Tuesday night

Gasol and Bryant echoed the same theme after their ninth wire-to-wire win of the season: The Lakers might be profoundly inconsistent, but few teams are tougher when they're focused.

"We know we're an elite team," Gasol said. "We know we can be dominating. It just hasn't happened consistently enough. We're glad it happened tonight, but we've got to do it again and again."

Shannon Brown scored 15 points as the NBA champs got right back into form after stumbling into their hometown All-Star weekend with increasingly embarrassing road losses to Orlando, Charlotte and those league-worst Cavaliers. The Lakers played the past seven games on the road while the Grammys and the All-Stars occupied their building.

It was all forgotten against Atlanta, a solid playoff contender that didn't appear quite ready for the break to end. The Lakers jumped to a 22-point lead in the first half of their first home game since Feb. 3, leading by 29 before coasting home.

"We came out and played hard, did all the right things," Bryant said. "I just felt like our execution defensively was really sharp tonight."

Joe Johnson scored 14 points and fellow All-Star Al Horford had 13 for the Hawks, who opened a five-game road trip with their fourth loss in five games.

Atlanta made less than 37 percent of its shots, missing 14 of 15 3-pointers. Hawks coach Larry Drew sat his five starters for the entire fourth quarter of Atlanta's fifth straight loss to the Lakers at Staples Center.

"I thought our guys took the path of least resistance the whole game," Drew said. "On offense, we settled, and defensively, we didn't play with physicality. I just thought we settled, which is starting to be a pattern with us."

Two days after taking every available shot while leading the All-Star game with 37 points on the way to his record-tying fourth MVP award, Bryant took just 11 shots—and he didn't need to do much more against the discombobulated Hawks.

The larger Lakers dominated Atlanta on the boards 54-32, withAndrew Bynum racking up 15 rebounds and three blocked shots. A 26-point lead heading into the fourth quarter allowed coach Phil Jackson to give plenty of rest to his regulars before Wednesday's trip to Portland.

"We have a long flight," Jackson said. "We know what it's like, and the rest period is pretty short, so it's nice to have that game."

Atlanta's two All-Stars were fairly sharp, but their teammates were 18 for 59. The Hawks play five games in seven days on their trip, including Wednesday night in Phoenix.

"I'm trying to figure it out," Horford said. "We had a great practice yesterday, so it was frustrating being out there. But you have to give them credit. They came out and did their thing. They took over, man. They really dominated at both ends. We really have some soul-searching to do as a team, and it's discouraging."

The Lakers built a 15-point lead in the first quarter with 67 percent shooting, easily finding open shots and thoroughly outrebounding the smaller, quicker Hawks. Atlanta fell apart offensively in the second quarter, going nearly 5 minutes without scoring and nearly 6 1/2 minutes between field goals while the Lakers scored 14 straight points on the way to a 54-33 halftime lead.

"We've had some good stretches, and some really bad stretches as well," Gasol said. "We knew the energy was going to be there, especially after the way we ended that road trip. It was just about executing with energy, and we did that."

Before the game, Bryant and Derek Fisher presented Atlanta reserve Josh Powell with his championship ring from last season's NBA title run with Los Angeles. Powell didn't contribute much to the Lakers last season, but Jackson praised his practice intensity.

Notes: Drew played two seasons with the Lakers from 1989-91, spent several years as a Lakers assistant coach and lives in Los Angeles in the offseason. He remembers panic when the Lakers went on any kind of losing streak, just as the current team faces, but says most of the pressure came from within the club— particularly Magic Johnson. … The Hawks were the only team Los Angeles hadn't already played this season. The clubs meet again in Atlanta on March 8. … Fans near courtside included Jack Black, Matthew Perry, USC defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, and Jim Buss, the son of Lakers owner Jerry Buss.
Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited



33 First half points for Atlanta, who struggled with L.A.'s packed in defense. The Lakers watched film on help defense for at least an hour on Monday, which certainly seemed to help.

22 More rebounds grabbed by the Lakers, at 54-32.

15 Season high rebound mark tied by Andrew Bynum, who did exactly what his coaches have asked of him in this one with a combination of board work and tough defense. He took only three shots, making one. Pau Gasol added 10 boards.

11 Lakers who scored at least two points, as subs Devin Ebanks and Joe Smith added buckets in garbage time. The only player not to get on the scoreboard was Derrick Caracter.

1 Player who logged at least 30 minutes, Gasol with 34. This a good thing with a back-to-back on Wednesday night at always-tough-to-play-in Portland. Bryant played only 26 minutes en route to a game-high 20 points.




View More Photos


Points Bryant 5-11 FG 20
Rebounds Bynum 4 OFF 11 DEF 15
Assists Bryant 5
Steals Bryant 2
Blocks Bynum, Smith 3

POSTGAME QUOTES


Lakers coach Phil Jackson on the team playing the second game of a back-to-back tomorrow and the significance of his starters getting rest in the fourth quarter:
"That's a big part of back-to-backs is that you can hopefully go out and have guys at 100 percent, or close to it, when you play a back-to-back game. We have a long flight, we know what it's like, and a rest period that's pretty short. So it's nice to have that game."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on his team getting the ball to the post tonight:
"There's some things that we did do that we wanted to do [like] get the ball inside. A lot of it more was about Pau getting shots in places where they were covering the bigs [Andrew Bynum], and Pau was open for easy shots. Our offense ran fluidly at times."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on what he looks for in his team's defense:
"Defensively we're looking to see that we stop dribble penetration. Every defense is about how you keep the opponent from penetrating and how you help out on post-up opportunities, and then ultimately can you limit a team to one shot. So those are keys tonight that were relatively effective."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on how the Lakers have to continue to build on their success tonight:
"There's not just like 'OK, we're back 100 percent.' We've done this before, and we know that the next game can be a game that we're not proud of… It's about consistently building a game, and having that ability to be purposeful in what we're trying to do."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on how teams refocus after returning from the All-Star Break:

"Teams, they'll come back and play really well sometimes after the All-Star Break, they're disconnected. They have to re-bond, so to speak, on short notice. A lot of times practices aren't even at normal time after an All-Star Weekend. It can be tough to get a team together for a game like this."




Lakers' Kobe Bryant on the team's energy tonight:
"We came out and played hard, did all the right things, I just felt like our execution defensively was really sharp tonight."

Lakers' Kobe Bryant on winning the first game after the All-Star break:
It's very important. It's very important. We took care of business now it's time to go to Portland see what we can do tomorrow night.

Lakers' Kobe Bryant on Andrew Bynum's performance tonight:
"He did a fantastic job. He was extremely active an we funneled everything to him. The blocks that he didn't get he really altered shots and shots that they even made were tough so he just ha a fantastic game."



Lakers' Pau Gasol on team rebounding and defense:
"When you control the rebounding as much as we did tonight obviously you give yourself a really good chance. It was a lot better, a lot better, obviously. We hold the opponent to 80 points, you beat them by 24 so defensively I think we did a really good job tonight supporting each other and doing what we're supposed to do."

Lakers' Pau Gasol on the remainder of the regular season:
"It's important but now there's another 24 games left that are going to be important just like it was tonight. Obviously, you want to start off well but you want to continue it. We've had good stretches, we just had really bad stretches also and we have to be more consistent."


Lakers' Shannon Brown on Andrew Bynum's performance tonight:
"Yea, 14 boards, he had like 3 or 4 huge blocks. He did what he had to do. He's a big man down there and he held down our paint…they [Atlanta] had to collapse a lot on offense…"

Lakers' Shannon Brown on beating another team from the Eastern Conference:
"We just got to continue to get better. We won't see anybody from the East in the playoffs to the championship. So we got to continue to get better. Worry about our offense and our defense; our game plan on a daily basis because it definitely switches up from team to team."

Lakers' Shannon Brown on what their team was working on during their last few practices:
"We work on our defense and we work on our offense. Defense wins games but you have to put the ball in the basket at least one time. It was a combination of everything; a lot of film watching, a lot of offense and defense."




Lakers' Andrew Bynum on their win tonight:
"We needed to come out and win. It didn't matter how we got it, but we needed to come out and get a W."




Hawks coach Larry Drew on his team's lack of focus after the All-Star break:
"It's very disappointing. I thought our guys…took the path of least resistance the whole game. On offense, we settled and defensively, we didn't play with physicality. The Lakers got physical and we started turning to the officials."

Hawks coach Larry Drew on if the Lakers size at the rim bothered his team:
"Yeah, a little bit. But I don't think we went to the rim enough. I just thought we settled, which is starting to be a pattern with us. When you fall into that type of pattern when you're not making shots, you're going to struggle. We went 1-for-15 from the three, yet we settled for the three. We have to have more basketball savvy than that."

Hawks coach Larry Drew on if tonight was more about the Lakers defense or Hawks' poor offense:
"I thought it was a combination of both. I thought we missed some wide open shots. We had some good shots, but when the shot is not falling, you have to turn down some of those shots and get to the basket, and we didn't do that. We just continued to fire away. And it got us behind."

Hawks coach Larry Drew on what they can do to break the pattern of settling for shots:
"You can drive [the ball]. You can drive it, you can repost it. There are some things you can do. You don't have to settle. Because you're open from the three-point line, you don't have to take it. Take a couple bounces in and shoot a pull-up."

Hawks coach Larry Drew on if the Hawks poor offense affected their defense:
"I wouldn't blame the defense on our shooting. I think it's totally two different things. We didn't play with physicality. I thought they really banged us in the half-court. I don't think we responded very well to it."






Hawks Al Horford on what happened in tonight's game:
"I don't know, I've really been trying to figure it out. We had a great practice yesterday and it's frustrating, you know, being out there. You've got to give them credit, they came out and did their thing. But we're not in a good position as a team right now."

Hawks Al Horford on the Lakers defense tonight:
"Outstanding. You know, the one thing that they did was that they contested all our shots, especially at the three point line. We have a lot of good three-point shooters, but they really made an effort to get out there and not give us anything clean, and I think that we settled a little too much for those."

Hawks Al Horford on the Lakers performance tonight:
"Yeah, oh no question. They took over, they dominated both ends. We really have some soul searching to do as a team, and it's discouraging. We had a great practice yesterday and to come out here and be flat like that, it's frustrating."

Hawks Al Horford on seeing Josh Powell receive his Championship ring:
"Yeah, I mean, it's special for him. We felt good for him, proud of him, you know he's been part of our team. I actually want to see it; I kind of saw it from far away. I mean, I know what it's like to win, I did at a college level and you're hungry for that. We're hungry to be in that position, and we're not there yet."


Aaron Brooks

Hawks Josh Powell on tonight's loss:
"We've got to move on and get ready for the next one. Stay positive, try not to dwell on this and learn from it, and keep it moving."

Hawks Josh Powell on what went wrong tonight:
"I just think we didn't come to compete when they came ready. We knew that they came off of a three game losing streak, you know, they were hungry. We just didn't come ready."








LAKERS VS. HAWKS GAME PREVIEW

By MATT BECKER, STATS Senior Writer

After winning All-Star game MVP honors Sunday, Kobe Bryant jokingly claimed he couldn't remember theLos Angeles Lakers' last game before the break.

Many in the organization also would like to forget about that defeat, as well as the two before it.

An exciting All-Star weekend in Los Angeles may have helped that cause, though Bryant and the Lakers will still be trying to put an ugly stretch behind them when they host the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night in the teams' first meeting of the season.

Los Angeles (38-19) appeared to be headed in the right direction by winning the first four contests of a seven-game road trip leading into the break, but things quickly took a turn for the worse.

After losing to Orlando 89-75 last Sunday, the Lakers suffered a 20-point loss to Charlotte the following night. While those two lopsided defeats were discouraging, nothing was more embarrassing than losing to league-worst Cleveland 104-99 last Wednesday.

Bryant had 17 points on 8-of-24 shooting, Andrew Bynum missed 10 of 12 shots to finish with six points and Los Angeles had 19 turnovers, its most since Jan. 2.

"It's back to the drawing board," Lamar Odom said. "Defense. Cohesiveness. Our chemistry on offense. I'm not that worried. I think it's things we can fix."

Despite the lackluster play, the Lakers still own the Western Conference's third-best record and a 9 1/2-game lead in the Pacific Division. General manager Mitch Kupchak is unlikely to make a trade before Thursday's deadline, and he thought the humiliating loss to the Cavaliers might be a turning point.

"We have five days to think about it, and maybe that turns out to be a rallying point," Kupchak said last Thursday. "Let's see where it leads. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can climb up."

Bryant didn't talk to the media after the loss to Cleveland, and seemed to take out some of his frustration Sunday. He finished with 37 points and 14 rebounds to win his record-tying fourth All-Star MVP in front of the Staples Center crowd.

During All-Star weekend, Bryant and Pau Gasol, who had 17 points for the winning West team, discussed coming out strong for the stretch run.

"We're looking forward to it," Bryant said. "We're up for the challenge. Pau and I have been talking this whole time about looking forward to it, and getting back at it."

The unofficial second half of the season begins with a daunting schedule for the Lakers, who play eight of their next 11 games against teams currently in the playoff picture. This stretch includes road contests against Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Miami and Dallas, as well as two matchups versus the Hawks.

The Lakers split the season series with Atlanta in 2009-10, with Bryant combining for 69 points in the two games.

Like Los Angeles, the Hawks (34-21) entered the break in a bit of a funk, losing to New York 102-90 on Wednesday. They've dropped three of four to fall one game back of Orlando for fourth in the East.

Two-time All-Star center Al Horford had 12 points and 11 rebounds against the Knicks, his third game after sitting out two with a bruised back. He had two points and three boards in 10 minutes Sunday, while Atlanta teammate Joe Johnson scored 11 for the East.

The rest of the Hawks will meet Horford and Johnson in Los Angeles, where they'll begin a five-game trip against West teams. Atlanta has been outscored by an average of 15.2 points in losing four straight to the Lakers in Los Angeles.

This will be Los Angeles' first game at Staples Center since losing to the Spurs 89-88 on Feb. 3.



Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited




Lakers Matt Barnes (right knee surgery) is out.
Theo Ratliff
(left knee surgery) is out.

None



2/22 - ATL @ LAL
3/08 - LAL @ ATL


Atlanta brings a 34-21 record into tonight's game. The Hawks are led by their all-stars Joe Johnson and Al Horford. They have a very respectable 17-12 road record so we must be ready to compete at a high level or we will be in trouble. Former Laker (player and assistant coach) Larry Drew is in his first year at the helm and he has given his team the freedom to use their athleticism to excel in the open court. Because of this, our number one priority must be transition defense. In addition to spending his career playing the point guard position, Coach Drew has been a highly respected assistant coach in the NBA for many years prior to taking over the Hawks. A testament to his ability to coach is his teams very good record of 9-4 in games decided by five points or less and 5-0 in games decided by three points or less. The challenging quest for Coach Drew and his staff has been to get this team to play more consistently.

Read Full Scouting Report @ Lakers Courtside Connection


GAME NOTES

SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers split last season's series with Atlanta 1-1 for the third consecutive year. Los Angeles has not lost a season series to the Hawks since 1978-79 (1-3). However, the Lakers and Hawks have split their season series in 9-of-the-last-10 years. This will be the 314th meeting between the two franchises dating back to their days in Minneapolis and Tri-Cities/Milwaukee/St. Louis respectively. Since the Hawks moved to Atlanta, the two teams have met 112 times with the Lakers leading the all-time series 69-43. The Lakers are 6-4 against the Hawks in their last 10 overall meetings. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 8-3 against the Hawks all- time and have gone 17-3 in their last 20 home games overall. On the road, the Lakers have gone 4-6 in their last 10 trips to Atlanta and have lost their last three straight at Philips Arena. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 12-8 against Atlanta. In 21 games (17 starts) against the Hawks, Kobe Bryant is averaging 22.6 points, and scored 41 points in their most recent home meeting 11/1/10, finishing just short of Jerry West's team record of 42 points against the Hawks (2/12/70). Hawks forward Josh Powell won two NBA Championships with the Lakers while averaging 3.4 points and 2.4 rebounds in two seasons. Hawks guard Maurice Evans was traded to Orlando along with veteran Brian Cook in November of 2007 for former Laker forward Trevor Ariza. Evans, now with Atlanta, averaged 8.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 76 games with the Lakers in 2006-07 and played seven games with Los Angeles at the start of the 2007-08 campaign before joining the Magic. Additionally, Hawks head coach Larry Drew played two seasons with the Lakers (1989-91), averaging 4.4 points and 2.6 assists in 128 games.

BRYANT EARNS RECORD 4TH ALL-STAR GAME MVP
On February 21st, Kobe Bryant was named MVP of the 60th NBA All-Star Game at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. With a game-high 37 points, game-high 14 rebounds, three assists and three steals, Bryant's MVP performance tied him with Bob Pettit (4) for the most NBA All-Star Game MVP awards in league history, surpassing Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Oscar Robertson (3). In earning the honor, Bryant became the 7th player in the last 44 years to be named MVP of an All-Star game that was played in his own home arena, joining Jerry West (1972, Great Western Forum), Michael Jordan (1988, Chicago Stadium), Karl Malone & John Stockton (co-MVPs in 1993, Delta Center) and Shaquille O'Neal, who did it twice (2004, STAPLES Center & 2009, US Airways Center). Bryant's 37 points were tied for the 4th most points scored in All-Star Game history with Kevin Garnett (2003), trailing only Wilt Chamberlain (42 points, 1962), Jordan (40 points, 1988) and Rick Barry (38 points, 1967).

Additionally, Bryant's 37-point night and Kevin Durant's 34-point effort marked just the second time that two All-Stars on the same team scored 30-or-more points in the same game. The only other time that happened was in the 1977 game when Julius Erving and Bob McAdoo each scored 30 points for the Eastern Conference. Also, Bryant and Tim Duncan appeared on the same side in an All-Star game for the 12th time on Sunday night, marking the most appearances in an All-Star game as teammates for any two players in NBA history, surpassing Dolph Schayes and Bob Cousy (11 All-Star appearances as teammates).*

STRONG ALL-STAR SHOWING FOR GASOL
With an All-Star Game career-high 17 points (8-13 FG), seven rebounds and two blocks, Pau Gasol helped the West hang on down the stretch for a 148-143 victory over the East in the 60th NBA All-Star Game at STAPLES Center. Logging the most minutes of any Eastern or Western Conference reserve (24:22), Gasol posted the game's second highest plus/minus with +10, equaling Atlanta guard Joe Johnson's +10 and one behind Denver forward Carmelo Anthony's +11 on the night.

RECORDS BEFORE & AFTER ALL-STAR BREAK UNDER JACKSON
On Tuesday, February 16th, the Lakers concluded a seven-game road trip as well as their pre-All-Star break schedule with a 38-19 record (.667). Below is a breakdown of the Lakers pre & post All-Star break records under head coach Phil Jackson:

GASOL'S 30/20
With 30 points (8-15 FG, 14-14 FT) and 20 rebounds February 16th at Cleveland, Pau Gasol posted the first 30-point/20-rebound game of his career while becoming the 10th Laker in franchise history ever to do so, joining Shaquille O'Neal (10), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19), Happy Hairston (1), Wilt Chamberlain (21), Rudy LaRusso (1), Elgin Baylor (77), Larry Foust (1), Clyde Lovellette (1) and George Mikan (10) in the 30/20 club (number in parentheses is with Lakers only). The last Laker to record a 30/20 game prior to Gasol was Shaquille O'Neal, who posted 31 points and 26 rebounds in an overtime victory over Milwaukee on March 21st, 2004.

BACK-TO-BACK
This season, the Lakers are 7-4 in the first game and 9-2 in the second of back-to-backs. On the year, the Lakers will play 15 sets of back-to-back games as opposed to the 20 they faced a season ago. The only other time the Lakers have played 15 or fewer sets of back-to-backs came in the team's first ever NBA season (1948-49) when they also played 15 sets of back-to-backs. Chicago, Milwaukee and Atlanta lead the league with 23 back-to-backs each in 2010-11 while Oklahoma City (17), Phoenix (16) and the Lakers (15) will play the fewest sets this season.

GONE FOR THE GRAMMYS
On Friday, February 4th, the Lakers headed to New Orleans, embarking on their annual Grammys Trip. Since STAPLES Center opened prior to the 1999-2000 season, the venue has been host to the Grammy Awards each winter, with the exception of the 2003 Grammy Awards, which were held at Madison Square Garden.





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