GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 29 28 24 20 101
Play by Play Atlanta Hawks 25 24 16 22 87


Bryant, streaking Lakers drop Hawks, 101-87

By CHARLES ODUM

ATLANTA (AP) Larry Drew remembers thinking as a young Lakers assistant coach that Kobe Bryant's talent "was off the charts" when the teen made his NBA debut with Los Angeles in 1996.

Fifteen years later, Drew isn't surprised to see Bryant still climbing the charts as the sixth-best scorer in NBA history.

Bryant scored 26 points to pass Moses Malone for sixth on the career scoring list and the Lakers beat Drew's Atlanta Hawks 101-87 on Tuesday night for their eighth straight win.

"He's very unique," said Drew, in his first season as the Hawks' coach, of the Lakers' star. "I was in L.A. when we traded for him, and you saw the talent.

"It was a matter of understanding and picking his spots and learning to play the game on the NBA level. And he did that. ... He's a phenomenal player."

Bryant, a 13-time All-Star, began the night 12 points from matching Malone's 27,409 points. He passed Malone when he made three free throws with 2:05 remaining in the first half.

Bryant has moved past an impressive list of Hall of Fame scorers this season. He passed Malone one week after eclipsing Elvin Hayes for seventh. He also has topped the scoring totals of Hakeem Olajuwon, Oscar Robertson, Dominique Wilkins and John Havlicek this season.

"I'm just very fortunate, that's all," Bryant said.

The Lakers took a three-game losing streak into the All-Star break. Since then, they've won eight straight, a streak that began with a similar 104-80 home win over the Hawks on Feb. 22.

Bryant said the Lakers "are just all on the same page."

"We're making people take contested shots and taking them out of areas they're comfortable in," Bryant said.

"It's not necessarily that we're winning games, but how we're winning them. We're really playing well. We're not making too many mistakes."

Bryant had good support as the Lakers overwhelmed the Hawks with their depth and power game inside.

The Lakers' 7-footers - Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol - both had double-doubles and dramatically affected the Hawks' shot selection. Center Al Horford relied on jump shots for his 17 points.

Bynum had 16 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots. It was his third straight game with 16 or more rebounds.

"He wasn't the leading scorer but he still impacted the game," said the Lakers' Lamar Odom of Bynum. "That shows you how important he is to us."

Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

"Kobe is going to get his shots," said Atlanta's Joe Johnson. "I think we all knew we had to try to limit guys around him. I think the guys around him played big."

Josh Smith scored 16 points for the Hawks, who have lost four of five.

Drew used his small lineup, with Horford joined by Smith and Marvin Williams on Atlanta's front line. Drew wanted the Hawks to use their running game to beat the Lakers.

"We tried to put a lot of emphasis on playing up-tempo, and it seemed like we ran out of gas," Drew said.

After leading 57-49 at halftime, the Lakers scored the first six points of the second half and stretched their lead to 22 points at 79-57 late in the third period. Smith had a three-point play in a 9-0 run for Atlanta to cut the lead to 90-82.

The Lakers answered with an 8-0 run, including Bryant's 3-pointer with 3:22 remaining.

Lakers fans chanted "MVP! MVP!" as Bryant made two free throws with 1:02 remaining. The free throws gave Los Angeles a 100-84 lead. Lakers coach Phil Jackson stuck with most of his starters for the final minute.

"It was a good performance, but after the game the mood was 'Let's get on to the next game,"' Jackson said.

Los Angeles had five players in double figures before the end of the third period.

Notes: Celebrities in the crowd included Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White and former NBA star Julius Erving, who lives in Atlanta. ... The Lakers won in Atlanta for the first time since Feb. 5, 2007, ending the Hawks' streak of three straight home wins in the series. ... Odom had 12 points. Derek Fisher had 11 for Los Angeles.


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




27,410 Points reached in his career by Kobe Bryant in the second quarter, enough to surpass Moses Malone for sixth on the NBA’s all-time scoring chart. He finished with 26 points in the game to lead all scorers.

39.7 Atlanta’s shooting percentage for the game. This was actually the sixth time in eight games since the break that the Lakers have held their opponent below 40 percent from the field, a remarkable stat showcasing outstanding team defense.

22 L.A.’s biggest lead of the game, coming late in the third quarter, before the Hawks finally rallied to cut the lead to eight midway through the fourth quarter, forcing the Lakers starters back into the contest to close it out.

16 Rebounds and points for Andrew Bynum in yet another terrific all-around game out of the All-Star break.

8 Consecutive wins for the Lakers out of the break, five of which have come on the road.




View More Photos


Points Bryant 26, 8-18 FG
Rebounds Bynum 16, 4 OFF 12 DEF
Assists Gasol 5
Steals Gasol 2
Blocks Bynum 3


POSTGAME QUOTES

Lakers head coach Phil Jackson:
"We didn't want to give up as many fast break points as we did, but we were able to overcome it with our size down low and the play of our big men tonight. It was a good performance, but after the game the mood was let's get on to the next game. Andrew has been really rebounding well, and I think his size, plus his hand strength has been key in his performance lately. Our defense was really good in the third quarter. We had a poor start to the fourth after a poor end to the third, so that hurt us a little bit."





Andrew Bynum:
"When we come out and play defense, it helps our offense, and that really makes it easier for us to be successful. When we play good half-court defense it makes it tough for the other team, and if we keep doing that we'll continue to be successful. We need to make guys take shots they don't want to."




Ron Artest:
"Andrew really played well tonight. He's still so young, and he only has room to improve and get better. He was a big factor tonight. He's going to be one of the best centers in the league for a while."





Head Coach Larry Drew:
(On the third quarter): "We tried to put a lot of emphasis on playing up-tempo, and it seems like we ran out of gas at a bad stretch. I thought we were right there. I was hoping we would just keep it within striking distance, because in the third quarter we didn't seem to have a lot of energy. I wanted to push the tempo, wanted to get up and down, but it didn't seem like we had a lot in the tank."

"I can't fault my team's effort tonight. I thought they gave a good effort. We ran up against a really good team, and a really hot team. This won't discourage us from trying to get out of this slump we're in. It's going to take a little bit extra from every guy. We're not going to hang our heads, and we're not going to feel sorry for ourselves. We're going to have to grind it out. This is just a part of the season, unfortunately it's toward the latter part, but all teams go through slumps. It's just a matter of us working our way through it, working our way out of it. And most important, that we don't lose confidence in ourselves. I won't allow that to happen."

(On Kobe Bryant passing Moses Malone on the all-time scoring list): "He's very unique. I was in L.A. when we traded for him, and you saw the talent. Here's a young kid, seventeen or eighteen years old, and the talent was off the charts. It was a just a matter of learning the NBA. It was a matter of understanding and picking his spots, and learning to play the game on the NBA level. And he did that. He is certainly, when you look at some of the all-time great players, he'll be amongst the top in scoring, defensively….he has a motor that very good players have. He's a phenomenal player."




Marvin Williams:
"We're just not making shots as a team. The shots that guys are used to knocking down, we're just not knocking down. It's that way for a lot of guys on this team right now. That's why we're not scoring the ball."

"They're so big. We tried to combat that with speed, and we did a good job early. But I think down the stretch, they kind of wore us down, especially on the glass. And that just hurt us tonight."




Kirk Hinrich:
"it was tough. They were more aggressive most of the game. They're a good team. I thought we played hard. We just got a little bit out of sorts at times. They played well. You have to take your hat off to them."

"We wanted to get stops, and get out and run. We had some success with that. But we had a little bit of trouble stopping them. They have great players, and their length is what makes them a championship-caliber team. Those guys are seven-feet with really long arms."













LAKERS VS. HAWKS GAME PREVIEW

By BRETT HUSTON, STATS Senior Writer

The Los Angeles Lakers stumbled into the All-Star break on a three-game losing streak but returned with an emphatic victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

They've been on top of their game ever since - particularly the last time they took the court.

Coming off a rout of the NBA's top team, the Lakers look to match a season high with their eighth straight victory Tuesday night by snapping a three-game skid in Atlanta.

A shocking 104-99 defeat at league-worst Cleveland on Feb. 16 was Los Angeles' third straight, leaving the two-time defending champions with a rather sour taste heading into the break.

The Lakers (45-19) bounced back with a 104-80 victory over Atlanta (37-26) on Feb. 22, and they haven't lost since. A win Tuesday would give them their longest streak since opening 8-0.

The victory that carried the most weight, however, came Sunday. Opening a four-game trip with a matchup against league-best San Antonio, Los Angeles snapped the Spurs' 22-game home winning streak with a 99-83 win in which they led by as many as 32.

"We've improved a great deal. Defensively we're minimizing our mistakes and not making as many mistakes as we were in the first half of the season," said Kobe Bryant, who had a game-high 26 points. "I think that's the big difference."

The Lakers allowed 97.5 points per game and 46.3 percent shooting in going 10-8 from Jan. 12-Feb. 16. Since the break, they've surrendered an average of 87.0 points while holding their opponents to 40.3 percent from the field.

Coach Phil Jackson gave much of the credit for that defensive improvement to assistant Chuck Person.

"He's really been good with the guys and has handled it pretty well," Jackson said. "We've taken the extra time defensively in practice rather than doing as much execution offensively as we have in the past."

Bryant, meanwhile, is on the verge of an offensive milestone. With 13 points Tuesday he'll surpass Moses Malone for sixth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list at 27,410.

The All-Star game MVP hasn't been particularly sharp in recent visits to Philips Arena, though. Bryant has averaged 18.7 points and shot 41.1 percent in his last three games at Atlanta.

Los Angeles center Andrew Bynum sat out all three meetings before grabbing 15 rebounds against Atlanta last month. He had 17 boards in each of the last two games.

The Hawks kicked off a stretch of 10 of 11 at home by beating Chicago 83-80 on Wednesday, but they've dropped their last two. Atlanta allowed Oklahoma City to shoot 50.6 percent in a 111-104 loss Friday, then turned the ball over 21 times while falling 92-79 to New York on Sunday.

Al Horford, who averaged 22.3 points in his previous three contests, was held to four as the Hawks played their eighth game in 13 days.

"Everybody's tired physically," coach Larry Drew said. "Everybody's tired mentally."

Bouncing back Tuesday won't be easy for Horford. The two-time All-Star has averaged a career-low 8.3 points in seven games versus Los Angeles.

Guard Kirk Hinric will be facing the Lakers for the first time with Atlanta, but he has a good idea what to expect. Hinrich's teams have lost seven straight against Los Angeles while he was with Chicago and Washington.

"It's a tough matchup for 29 teams in the league," Hinrich said. "They share the ball, they play the right way, they're coming off a big win. So it's gonna be a tough task."



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 probable.
Devin Ebanks
(stress fracture, left tibia) is out.
Derek Fisher
(sprained left elbow) is probable.
Theo Ratliff
(left knee surgery) is out.

None



2/22 - ATL @ LAL W 104-80
3/08 - LAL @ ATL


The most important point about tonight's game is the fact that the great effort and outcome of the game Sunday at San Antonio means nothing if we come out with a flat performance and loss tonight. We must continue to build on the steps we have made since the all-star break and this is just one more opportunity to improve our team defense against some talented offensive individuals on the Hawks. We must understand that Atlanta will be a much tougher opponent than the one we saw in the first game after the break. They clearly had not mentally returned from their vacation weekend and we took advantage of that at Staples Center but players such as Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford are too good offensively to play another game like that one.

Read Full Scouting Report @ Lakers Courtside Connection


GAME NOTES

SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers lead their season series with Atlanta 1-0 after splitting last season's series with the Hawks 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 315th 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 113 times with the Lakers leading the all-time series 70-43. The Lakers are 6-4 against the Hawks in their last 10 overall meetings. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 9-3 against the Hawks all-time, are winners of their last five straight and have gone 18-3 in their last 21 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 13-8 against Atlanta. In 22 games (18 starts) against the Hawks, Kobe Bryant is averaging 22.5 points. Last season, Bryant scored 41 points 11/1/10 vs. Atlanta, finishing just short of Jerry West's team record 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 12POINTS SHY OF MOSES MALONE FOR 6th ON NBA'S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST A week removed from passing Elvin Hayes (27,313) for 7th on the NBA's all-time scoring list 2/27 at Oklahoma City, Kobe Bryant (27,397) now stands 12 points shy of Moses Malone (6th/27,409) on the all-time list. Earlier this season, Bryant moved past Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946) 1/28 vs. Sacramento, Oscar Robertson (26,710) 1/7 vs. New Orleans, Dominique Wilkins (26,668) 1/4 vs. Detroit and John Havlicek (26,395) 12/10 at Chicago on the all-time list. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant and Malone (6th/27,409) are Shaquille O'Neal (5th/28,590), Wilt Chamberlain (4th/31,419) and Michael Jordan (3rd/32,292). Among the top seven scorers in NBA history, five have worn the Lakers uniform (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st), Karl Malone (2nd), Chamberlain (4th), O'Neal (5th) and Bryant (7th)).

Bryant has been steadily moving up the list over the past few years. Earlier this season, with 23 points at Chicago (12/10/10), he passed John Havlicek (26,395) for 11th. Last season, he passed Alex English (25,613), Reggie Miller (25,279), Jerry West (25,192), Patrick Ewing (24,815) and Allen Iverson (24,368). In passing West with a slam dunk at the 4:14 mark of the third quarter February 1, 2010 at Memphis, finishing the game with 44 points (West's retired number), Bryant became the leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. In 2008-09, Bryant passed Gary Payton (21,813) and Hall-of-Famers Charles Barkley (23,757), Robert Parish (23,334), Adrian Dantley (23,177), Elgin Baylor (23,149), Clyde Drexler (22,195) and Larry Bird (21,791).

RARE ONE-SIDED GAME IN SAN ANTONIO
In their victory over the Spurs on March 6th at AT&T Center, the Lakers closed out the first quarter with a 26-5 run to take a 34-13 lead en route to a 99-83 victory against San Antonio. This marked only the second time in the Spurs' 36 seasons in the NBA that they were outscored by more than 20 points in the first quarter of a home game. The first was a 122-117 overtime loss to the Rockets in January 1989. Additionally, the Lakers increased their lead to 28 at the half, the first time in which the Spurs have ever trailed by at least 28 points at the half at home in franchise history. The last time the Spurs were down by 28+ points at the half in any game was January 20, 1990 at Denver (Nuggets 69, Spurs 40).*

The Lakers also outscored the Spurs by 29 points with Tim Duncan on the floor, his worst plus/minus since posting a -29 against the Lakers on November 28, 2003. Duncan finished 1-for-7 from the field for the second time this season, the other coming 12/28 against the Lakers as well. Prior to this season, Duncan had only two home games in his entire career in which he had one field goal or less. (ESPN Stats & Information).

SCORING CONSISTENCY
Kobe Bryant's 24 points in the Lakers victory over the Clippers (2/25) took him over the 1,500-point mark for the 11th consecutive season, marking the longest such streak by an NBA player since Karl Malone reached that milestone in 12 straight seasons (1986-87 to 1997-98).*

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.

IRON MAN
Entering the Lakers game at Atlanta, Derek Fisher has played in 477 consecutive regular season games dating back to April 15, 2005, the longest consecutive games streak among all active NBA players. Fisher moved into the top position after Portland's Andre Miller (632) missed the Blazers game against Phoenix (12/7/10) due to NBA suspension. Additionally, Fisher has started 355 consecutive regular season games dating back to January 15, 2007, tops among all active players by more than a season's worth of games (2nd – Luis Scola). Former Laker A.C. Green holds the NBA record for most consecutive games played with 1,192 dating from 11/19/86 – 4/18/01 while a member of the Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.

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.

WIRE-TO-WIRE
With their 104-80 victory vs. Atlanta on February 22nd, the Lakers recorded their league-leading NINTH wire-to-wire win of the season. Getting to seven wire-to-wire victories in just 39 games matched the Lakers regular season total from all of last season, while their eighth in 46 games surpassed that total. This season, the Lakers (9) lead the NBA in wire-to-wire victories, followed by the Celtics (8), Heat (7), Nuggets (7) and Spurs (7) through games played 3/6/11. The Lakers other wire-to-wire victories this season came against the Warriors (10/31 vs. GS, 11/21 vs. GS), Grizzlies (11/2 vs. MEM), Wizards (12/7 vs. WAS), Pacers (12/15 @ IND), 76ers (12/31 vs. PHI), Cavaliers (1/11 vs. CLE) and Jazz (1/25 vs. Utah). Last year, the Lakers claimed NINE wire-to-wire victories (games in which they never trailed); seven during the regular season and two during the 2010 Playoffs (4/18 & 4/27 vs. Oklahoma City). During their previous championship run in 2008-09, the Lakers claimed 11 wire-to-wire victories; nine during the regular season and two during the 2009 Playoffs (4/29 vs. Utah & 5/17 vs. Houston). Last season, the Lakers also lost twice in wire-to-wire fashion (98-107 1/8/10 @ POR and 75-91 3/26/10 @ OKC).






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