(Photo By: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)
Lakers at Hawks: 3 Things to Know (2/26/18)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers make their annual visit to Atlanta.
1) Ball is back
Lonzo Ball will hit the floor with his teammates against the Hawks after resting Saturday’s game as part of his return from a sprained left MCL.
After missing 15 straight contests, Ball made an immediate impact in Friday’s win over Dallas, pitching in nine points, seven rebounds and six assists in only 17 minutes.
Ball continued his pre-injury streak of hot shooting by drilling three 3-pointers, while also pushing the team’s pace and finding a nice chemistry with Ivica Zubac, whom he gifted half of his assists.
Ball finished his first game against the Hawks in triple-double range (13 points, 10 rebounds, six assists), so look for whether his playing time increases based on how his knee feels.
2) KCP is playing his best ball as a Laker
How hot has Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s shot been over the last six games? Well, he’s hit 60.3 percent of his attempts, including a toasty 20-of-37 mark from 3-point range.
During this stretch, that is by far the most accurate long-distance clip by any of the NBA’s 59 players who have attempted at least 30 triples.
Caldwell-Pope’s searing streak may have crescendoed in Saturday’s victory over Sacramento, as the first-year Laker provided his top effort in purple and gold.
KCP caught fire from deep, knocking down eight 3-pointers en route to a season-high 34 points. Not content with his production from downtown, the 25-year-old also hit four shots inside the arc and snagged seven rebounds.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope caught fire from behind the arc, finishing with 34 points and 8 triples in tonight's win against Sacramento pic.twitter.com/kpkWwALLFz— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 25, 2018
3) Lakers can make it three straight
L.A. is looking to capture a 3-0 start to the post-All-Star schedule in front of a largely pro-Lakers crowd in Atlanta.
To that end, the Lakers would be happy to repeat their victory over the Hawks last month, which saw them hang up 132 points, including 42 on fast-breaks — both of which were the most surrendered by Atlanta this season.
Brandon Ingram was excellent in that game, scoring 20 points and handing out seven assists while missing only one shot.
Though the Hawks may currently be locked in a six-way tie for fewest wins in the NBA (18), they do have aspects that make them dangerous.
Atlanta forces the NBA’s second-most turnovers (15.8) and scores the second-most points off of them (18.3). Dennis Schroder will drive relentlessly to the basket, while John Collins is an ideal pick-and-roll partner. Former Laker Kent Bazemore is have a career year.
And if the Lakers need any more evidence of the Hawks’ ability to steal a victory, they can ask the other teams in their conference. Atlanta has won six straight against the West.
Lakers: Lonzo Ball (sore left knee) is probable. Channing Frye (appendectomy) is out.
Hawks: Malcolm Delaney (right knee strain), Tyler Cavanaugh (right ankle sprain) and Antonius Cleveland (left ankle surgery rehab) are out. DeAndre’ Bembry (abdominal strain) is doubtful.
Tip-Off: 4:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Gold Icon
Location: Philips Arena — Atlanta, Georgia