Five things to take from Lakers' 86-78 victory over Atlanta Hawks
1. The Lakers involved their big men often in the Lakers' 86-78 victory Tuesday over the Atlanta Hawks. Yeah, so you have to consider Andrew Bynum matched up with Atlanta center Erick Dampier for most of the game. But Bynum's 15 points on seven-of-10 shooting showed some impressive post moves.
On one play, Bynum performed an up-and-under en route the basket. On another, he spun baseline using sharp footwork. He remained patient passing out of double teams and established post positioning immediately after kicking the ball out to the perimeter.
As for Gasol, he started off fairly aggressively against Atlanta forward Josh Smith. But several of his missed shots came off easy looks at the basket. Fortunately for the Lakers, he still found ways to contribute by converting on putbacks, facilitating and even hitting a three-pointer en route to a team-leading 20 points on nine-of-22 shooting, after shooting four of 14 in the first half.
2. Kobe Bryant overcame poor shooting start. Bryant's 10 points on five-of-18 shooting marks a seven-game stretch in which he has shot below 50%. It's easy to say this points to his torn ligament in his right wrist. Perhaps it does, but it's likely no more painful than when it was when he shot at a prolific rate. The most visible reason for his one-for-10 first-half clip against Atlanta pointed to his shot selection. Many of them came off runners or deep three-pointers, some of which happened deep in the shot clock. In the second half, Bryant's four-of-eight mark from the field came off more fluid ball movement and more drives to the basket.
3. The game initially looked ugly. Hardly any of the 18,997 fans at Staples Center paid much attention until the Kiss Cam flashed on the scoreboard. Hardly any of the Lakers arrived with energy fresh off a six-game trip. Hardly any of the undersized Hawks provided much, with flimsy interior defense and horrific outside shooting. A stronger second-half effort and some highlight worthy plays described below masked that a little bit.
4. Andrew Goudelock emerges again. Goudelock joked that his rookie duties remained minimal during the Lakers' six-game trip because he didn't make too many mistakes. If anything the Lakers should start running errands for him. His 10 points on four-of-six shooting proved timely considering the Lakers' poor outside shooting. It also relieved some of the problems plaguing the backcourt. It's definitely no coincidence that Goudelock scored most of his points at shooting guard while Steve Blake ran the point. That allowed him to move off the ball with more rhythm.
5. Matt Barnes and Metta World Peace look solid at small forward. Most nights, Brown shuffles this unit in and out because of inconsistency. Interestingly, after talking to World Peace during morning shootaround about his recent proclamations that Brown remains overly consumed with his poor statistics, World Peace played with more spring in his step. He punctuated that with a three-pointer to close the first half, a monstrous dunk off a Gasol pass and of course his one-handed slam through the lane en route to 10 points on four-of-seven shooting. Meanwhile, Barnes' seven points featured him getting open on backdoor cuts.
-- Mark Medina
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