(Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)
Lakers Fall in Pre-All-Star Finale, Despite LeBron's Triple-Double
As the Lakers limp into the all-star break, they know their mission: make up a 2 1/2-game difference in the Western Conference standings in order to reach the playoffs.
That goal took a hit on Tuesday, when they lost 117-113 to an Atlanta team that is 19 games under .500. They now have nine days until their next contest, which begins the final 25-game stretch of the season.
“It’s time for us to get away and reflect a little bit as a group,” coach Luke Walton said. “I think this first part of the season we’ve gone through a lot of adversity. We’re probably not where we want to be, but we’re still close enough.
“We’ve got a challenge ahead of us coming back from all-star, and we’ve got some work to do. But I think we have a group that’s up for that challenge, and we look forward to attacking that when we get back after it.”
LeBron James — who will head to Charlotte this weekend for his first All-Star Game as a Laker — put together an impactful all-around performance, dropping 28 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds to capture his fifth triple-double of the year.
His passing was especially on point, as he collected the most dimes by a Laker since Kobe Bryant had 17 in January 2015. But James was more concerned with the Lakers (28-29) slipping under .500 for the first time since they began the season 5-6.
“At the end of the day we lost the ball game,” James said. “I don’t care what I did individually. I could care less if I’m not winning ball games. That’s what I’m all about. I can throw that game in the trash.”
The Lakers allowed Atlanta (19-38) to get in too much of an offensive rhythm — something that has become familiar for a team that has yielded a league-high 124.8 points per game over its last 12 matches.
L.A. finally got defensive in the fourth quarter, holding the Hawks to 17 points on 5-of-19 shooting. But the Lakers themselves suddenly couldn’t find any offense, managing only 18 points in the final frame.
Now the Lakers will look to rest and regain their momentum for the final two months of the season.
“Coming back reenergized with the idea of: Let’s try to do something special,” Walton said. “Let’s sacrifice, let’s go out and give for the team. That’s what we were doing earlier, and I think we’ll get back to that.”
Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma each had 19 points. … Trae Young and John Collins led the Hawks with 22 points apiece, while Young added 14 assists. … Atlanta shot 10-of-17 on 3-pointers in the first quarter, but just 6-of-25 the rest of the game.