Pace-Pushing Lakers Rush Past Hawks
It was the kind of night that the Lakers envisioned when they drafted Lonzo Ball second overall this summer.
Players sprinted out in transition, the ball was whipped all across the floor and the shots wouldn’t stop falling, as the Lakers scorched the court with a 132-113 win over Atlanta.
Ball — the main reason for the Lakers’ league-leading pace — was at the heart of all this, as the purple and gold scored a franchise-record 42 points on fast breaks.
“You can see that we’re having a lot of fun when we play like that,” Ball said. “It benefits my game perfectly. I’ve played like that my whole life.”
Ball finished the night with 13 points (10 on fast breaks), 10 rebounds and six assists.
He, Jordan Clarkson (18 points) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (14) each hit three 3-pointers, as the Lakers made a season-best 16 shots from beyond the arc.
But the outburst was about so much more than the long ball, as the Lakers snapped their nine-game losing streak with one of their most efficient scoring nights in recent memory.
They shot 55.8 percent from the field — their highest in four years — dished out 32 assists and had eight players score in double figures.
As for that offensive potency, much could be traced back to how aggressive the Lakers were on the other side of the ball.
The Lakers — who played the worst defense in the league during their losing streak — finally put it together. With the roster back at full strength, the Lakers communicated well and expended effort in challenging Atlanta’s shots.
The result was a plethora of rebounds that were immediately pushed ahead, creating transition opportunities.
“That’s when we’re at our best,” coach Luke Walton said. “When we can get deflections or blocks. Or our bigs come in and grab the rebound and we can hit those lanes.”
Brandon Ingram — who scored 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting — co-piloted the fast-break attack alongside Ball.
Ingram had one of his best passing nights yet, handing out seven assists, including four in transition.
“Earlier this year I would’ve took it to the basket, try to draw a foul or force a layup,” Ingram said. “But (now) I tried to visualize other guys on the basketball floor to make the best play possible.”
Considering the final result, the beginning of this game was surprisingly ugly for Ingram and his fellow starters, as Atlanta (10-29) jumped out to an early 10-2 lead.
But the Lakers (12-27) barked back and took a two-point lead out of the first quarter before unleashing a flurry to start the next period.
L.A. began the second quarter with a 21-3 run behind eight points apiece from Ball and Clarkson, who sniped from 3-point range and attacked the basket. The result was a 50-30 lead that the Lakers would never surrender.
Brook Lopez played stellar defense, including four steals and two blocks. … Julius Randle had 15 points and nine rebounds. … Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 27 points. … A sold-out crowd of 18,997 filled Staples Center.