Three Things to Know: Lakers vs Hawks - 1/7/22
Winners of four of five games following a five-game losing streak, the Lakers (20-19) draw the Atlanta Hawks (17-20) at Crypto.com Arena, with a 7:00 p.m. Pacific tipoff on Spectrum SportsNet.
Here are three things to know before tonight’s contest:
While LeBron has been making headlines with his consistent dominance of late, it is the help he’s getting from his teammates that has L.A. on the verge of winning their fourth-straight game for the first time this season.
The Lakers have looked to stay with a new identity of playing small and using James at the five. L.A. was outrebounded by Minnesota 56-28 on Sunday but stayed true to their small play. After an early presence was made by the Sacramento bigs in Tuesday’s game, Frank Vogel responded by bringing in Dwight Howard (had not played in almost a week) to weather the storm.
The 18-year vet didn’t miss a beat, finishing the night with 14 points and 14 rebounds in 22 minutes.
14 points and 14 boards. Dwight stays ready to make an impact. pic.twitter.com/NRyKXzSyss— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 5, 2022
In addition to Howard, Talen Horton-Tucker contributed 19 points and six assists off the bench and as LeBron mentioned during his postgame interview on Tuesday, “THT was phenomenal, and his finding a rhythm was very much a welcome sight.” His 9-of-13 shooting was the key to L.A. finding a win when the rest of the team struggled to hit shots.
The resigning of Stanley Johnson will bring an extra tenacity to the defensive side of the ball.
The team is starting to gain some solid playing time and consistent rotations are building, allowing for proper cohesiveness as we near the halfway mark of the season.
Faces say it all pic.twitter.com/IhB4o3TqED— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 6, 2022
TURNOVERS & TURNING OVER
The Hawks enter tonight with the lowest turnover average per game in the entire NBA (12.1) and the lowest average over the last three games in turnovers per game (8.3) and turnovers per possession (8.4%).
The Lakers on the other hand currently have the third-worst turnover average with 15.5 per game.
While the season average is far from the standard of Lakers basketball, over the last three games the Lakers have the third-best averages in turnovers per game (10.0) and turnover per possession (9.8%). Additionally, the Lakers have committed fewer turnovers in all three games (opponents are averaging +7 more turnovers) and have not surpassed eight-plus in two of the three games.
For the first time since 2016, Russell Westbrook finished a game without committing a turnover. Westbrook has been in the spotlight all season in that category, as he leads the league in turnovers committed with 181.
After his performance in Tuesday’s game, Russ had one simple explanation for his turnover-free night.
“Just making easy reads,” Westbrook said. He added that the season-low five turnovers should help the team moving forward and while it may be a bit unrealistic, “it shows that when we put our mind to it, we can do it as a team.”
The fourth quarter has been the major frame where L.A. has thrived the most in its last three games. The Lakers have outscored their opponents 105-83 in the last quarter, are second in the NBA in average fourth quarter margin (+7.3) and lead the league in fourth quarter points per game (35.0).
Atlanta meanwhile comes into tonight’s contest ranked 26th in the NBA in fourth quarter points (25.0) but lead the league in second half PPG over the last three games (63.3). The Lakers are just under the Hawks, averaging 62.0 second half PPG (good for fourth in the league).
In the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game, L.A. found themselves down seven with about eight minutes left. From that moment on, the Lakers would go on to outscore the Kings 33-18 and seal the eight-point victory. LBJ and Monk combined for 25 points in the fourth quarter alone.
Not counting the dominating win over Portland on New Year’s Eve, L.A. has shown its grit and ability to close out the last two games. With a group of lethal shooters over on the Hawks, the Lakers will look to carry their momentum over the last three games into tonight.
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