LeBron James scored 23 of his 32 points in the second half, Malik Monk added 29, a season-high, and the Los Angeles Lakers fought off the Atlanta Hawks 134-118 on Friday night for their first streak of four. consecutive victories of the season.
Avery Bradley and Talen Horton-Tucker scored 21 points apiece for the Lakers, who have won five of six overall while remaining perfect on a five-game homestand that ends Sunday. With Anthony Davis the only major contributor still missing from their injury-plagued roster, the Lakers recorded 37 assists, a season-high, and continued to play their most consistent basketball of their tumultuous season.
“We’re getting our guys back,” said James, who also had nine assists, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots. “It is literally that simple. We’re starting to see what we’ve got because the guys are in the lineup. Soon we get (Kendrick) Nunn as well, and shortly thereafter AD returns. When you build a team with depth and chemistry on the pitch, and when too many guys are missing, it’s too early to gauge it. “
Trae Young had 25 points and 14 assists, and John Collins scored 21 points on his return against the Hawks, who have lost five of seven amid serious coronavirus problems. Atlanta fell to 2-3 on a six-game trip, its longest of the season.
Los Angeles led by 19 early in the fourth quarter, but Atlanta narrowed the lead to 10 before the Lakers closed it with dramatic dunks from James and Monk, who climbed the lane for a slam with 1:56 to player.
Monk scored 21 points in the first half while making eight of his first nine shots in his last impressive performance for the Lakers, who signed him as a free agent in the offseason. Monk has averaged 20.7 points per game in Los Angeles’ previous six games starting at Christmas, showing his quick-release rider with several 3 points in every outing.
“What we love about him is that he can create and he can be a finisher,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “He’s playing really well in every way he can offensively. “
Coach Nate McMillan is still away from the Hawks under NBA health and safety protocols, but starters Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic have returned to uniform after clearing the protocols earlier in the week. Collins had missed the Hawks’ previous five games and Bogdanovic scored 15 points after missing the last four.
Again, Atlanta’s main problem was defense: The Hawks have surrendered at least 130 points for the eighth time since November and for their fourth straight loss.
“We have to do a better job,” said Atlanta interim coach Joe Prunty. “Because in a game like tonight you have a guy like Malik Monk and Avery Bradley who weren’t necessarily causing the problems, but they were getting the benefits. We have to be better defensively. “
Young added nine rebounds to another standout performance despite a lower back injury that forced him to miss Atlanta’s final game in Sacramento after losing 56 to Portland on Monday.
“I think defense is all about effort,” said Young, who broke Dominique Wilkins’ franchise record scoring at least 25 points in his 17th game in a row. “It’s not necessarily one skill too many. It’s more about effort and desire, and it’s largely a game plan. These two things go hand in hand, and I think we need to do better on both. We have to want it more.
Hawks: Cameron Oliver and Gorgui Dieng remain in NBA health and safety protocols with McMillan. … Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot played 23 scoreless minutes in his first game since his contract became guaranteed for the remainder of the season.
Lakers: Austin Reaves’ contract also became fully secured on Friday in an unsurprising decision. The rookie is a rotating regular player on the Los Angeles bench. … James passed Alvin Robertson for 10th place on the NBA’s second-half career steal list. … Russell Westbrook had nine points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds before committing a foul just before his eighth triple-double of the season.
Bradley scored 16 points in an outstanding first half and scored four 3-pointers in his first game since his contract with the Lakers became guaranteed for the remainder of the season.
Los Angeles claimed Bradley in October after their roster struggled with preseason injuries, and the veteran Guard surprisingly became a reliable starter and contributor during his second stint in Los Angeles. Bradley contributed to the Lakers’ championship squad before the coronavirus hiatus, but he withdrew from the playoff bubble and was unable to win the title.
HUERT ‘EM AGAIN
Kevin Huerter, who scored 25 points and closed the Hawks’ victory in Sacramento two days ago with five points behind, scored four 3s and scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half against the Lakers.
Hawks: At Clippers on Sundays.
Lakers: Host Memphis on Sunday.
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