Lakers Turn Defense to Offense in Best Fast-Break Game
The NBA has tracked fast-break scoring for 21 years, and no Lakers team has put up more such points in a game than Lonzo Ball and co. did on Sunday night.
The Lakers sprinted past the Atlanta Hawks with a franchise-record-tying 42 fast-break points, and they did so efficiently, shooting a blistering 17-of-21 in transition.
Ball — who has been the engine behind the Lakers’ league-leading pace — was at the heart of this with his across-the-floor playmaking and 3-point shooting.
Ball constantly took advantage of Atlanta’s inability to get back on defense, pushing the ball ahead while the Hawks scrambled to cover open cutters and shooters.
Yet while Ball’s fancy playmaking opened the most eyes, Josh Hart was just as valuable by starting and finishing multiple breaks.
The 30th overall pick fired a couple outlet passes, ran a smooth give-and-go with Ball, and got some buckets himself with a pair of rushes to the rim.
Lakers scored the most fast-break points in franchise history last night.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) January 8, 2018
Josh Hart was at the core of this, starting and finishing breaks with his defense, rebounding, passing and floor-running. pic.twitter.com/rGKpmOO7bA
And perhaps even more importantly, Hart continued his work as a stout wing defender.
The Lakers wouldn’t have gotten so many fast-break opportunities if they didn’t play such competitive defense, and Hart helped set the scene on that side of the ball.
Josh Hart didn't have a huge statline but was excellent last night, particularly in transition.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) January 8, 2018
Here he fights over the screen and locks up Bazemore, leading to Kyle Kuzma's fast-break bucket. pic.twitter.com/0bcYHfA8NA
The Lakers held Atlanta to just 41.1 percent shooting through three quarters (before the Hawks tacked on garbage-time scoring), which bled directly into their transition offense.
Starting center Brook Lopez — who contests the most shots in the NBA — was another vital factor, tallying four steals and two blocks, which gave the Lakers plenty of chances to outrun their opponents.