Los Angeles Lakers (24-21)
Atlanta Hawks (9-37)
Monday, February 7th
Lakers @ Rockets 103-102 (LOSS)
Pacers @ Hawks 84-79 (LOSS)
Coach Frank Hamblen
C - Chris Mihm (10.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 0.6 APG)
PF - Lamar Odom (15.3 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 3.4 APG)
SF - Jumaine Jones (6.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.7 APG)
SG - Caron Butler (14.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.6 APG)
PG - Chucky Atkins (13.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 4.5 APG)
Coach Mike Woodson
C - Obinna Ekezie (2.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 0.2 APG)
PF - Antoine Walker (19.9 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 3.8 APG)
SF - Al Harrington (17.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.1 APG)
SG - Josh Childress (6.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.5 APG)
PG - Boris Diaw (3.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.9 APG)
- Luke Walton
Predicted Stats: 12 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists
- Tony Delk
Predicted Stats: 12 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists
- Caron Butler
Predicted Stats: 25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
- Antoine Walker
Predicted Stats: 24 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists
There's not much to say about this game, other than the fact that this is a must-win for the Lakers. Since Kobe's absence, Los Angeles has lost 6 of those 11 games with him on the sidelines, something Buss and Kupchak can't bear to watch, as well as every Laker fan from California to NYC. A team below .500 in the West only means that their season ends before the beginning of May...so how important is Kobe's return to this squad? More than you can imagine.
Against the Hawks, the Lakers will need to play tough perimeter defense. Keep the ball out of Walker's hands when he's free to shoot, and stop Harrington's slashing...and this game may be over by the third quarter. We don't need a three point contest in today's game, either...so the Lakers should focus solely on pounding the ball inside, both to Mihm and by driving the baseline, cutting to the hoop, running fast breaks, or just slashing into the paint.
Off the bench, two guys that may do some damage in this game are Luke Walton and Tony Delk. Walton's passing, along with his hustling and court awareness, has been seeing more minutes under Hamblen. Luke can easily lose his defender, possibly better than anyone on this squad at the moment, and if he will just attack the rim, the Hawks may find that he's a tough player to keep from the net. Delk is no scrub...with a size advantage over both Atkins and Brown, you may see him post them both up and use his upper body strength to force his way inside for easy jumpers.
The Lakers have to win...nothing else will be acceptable at this point. Lakers beat the Hawks, 95-81.