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10 Things to Know: Lakers vs. Hawks (3/4/16)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers start their homestand by hosting the Atlanta Hawks.
1) Six games into having his starter status reinstated, D’Angelo Russell has made the most of this opportunity by providing some offensive firepower. The rookie is averaging 21.8 points during this stretch, shooting 52.3 percent from the field and 55.3 percent on 3-pointers. He is also second in the NBA in made 3s in his surge with 3.5 per game.
D’Angelo Russell Shot Chart (Last Six Games)
2) This game tips off an eight-game homestand for the Lakers, who won’t leave Los Angeles for the next three weeks. It’s a much-needed reprieve for the purple and gold given that they’ve played an NBA-high 35 road games so far.
3) The Lakers are dinged up at the moment, beginning with Lou Williams, who is out with a hamstring strain. Plus, the starting lineup could be in need of a facelift, as Kobe Bryant (shoulder) and Jordan Clarkson (knee) are questionable.
4) Los Angeles fell in Atlanta on Dec. 4, meaning that it’s in danger of ending a dominant 36-year run over its foes. The Lakers have not lost a season series to the Hawks since the 1978-79 season.
5) Atlanta is led by one of the league’s best two-way players, Paul Millsap. The three-time All-Star leads his team in scoring (17.5), rebounds (8.6) and double-doubles (21), while topping all big men in steals (1.78). Among the entire league, he ranks fifth in defensive win shares (3.9) and sixth in defensive rating (97.8).
6) Millsap’s fellow All-Star, Al Horford, is closing in on a couple of milestones. Horford needs 20 points to reach 8,000 for career, plus 15 rebounds for 5,000.
7) Atlanta had four All-Stars last season, but the other two have regressed a bit this time around. Jeff Teague was eighth in assists a year ago (7.0), but now ranks just 19th (5.6) — though he does still provide value with his passing, placing second in secondary assists (1.9). Meanwhile, Kyle Korver — who led the league in 3-point percentage in back-to-back years — is just 32nd (38.3) in this campaign.
8) Since the calendar turned to 2016, the Hawks have arguably featured the NBA’s most uncrackable defense. In this year, Atlanta holds opponents to the league’s worst field goal (42.6) and 3-point (31.0) percentages, while swiping the third-most steals (9.4).
9) Meanwhile, the Hawks have also played some of the league’s most fluid offense all season long. They rank second in assists (25.5) and are 19-1 when shooting 50 percent or better.
10) The Lakers will likely count on their bigs to come up with some extra possessions in order to combat Atlanta’s proficiency on both sides of the floor. Since 2016 began, the Hawks allow the second-most offensive rebounds (12.0), while grabbing the fewest themselves (8.4).
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