About the only thing that went right for the Atlanta Hawks tonight happened before the game even started. Former Laker Josh Powell was presented with a championship ring, his second in two years in Los Angeles. Congrats Josh! It’s about as close as any of his teammates will come to seeing true NBA bling this year.
About the only thing that went wrong for the Lakers was Kobe Bryant being called for a bogus flagrant foul. You can expect the league to overturn Kobe’s sloppy foul on Josh Smith. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing as the Lake Show hammered the Hawks in convincing fashion 104-80.
To be sure Atlanta was on break thinking the All-Star festivities were still going on in Los Angeles. But a lot of that had to do with the intensity that the Lakers played with tonight. Looking to start the final stretch of the season off on the right foot, Kobe and company came to play.
Unlike those final three road games before the break, the Lakers executed their offense to perfection. More importantly, they played some truly inspired team defense.
Andrew Bynum’s presence in the post was undeniable. The Altered Beast had one of those games that make you realize just how important he is to the three-peat hopes. Drew was a beast on the boards tying a season high with 15 rebounds. He also blocked3 shots but made many a Hawk think twice about putting one up when challenged by one of the long arms of Andrew.
Derek Fisher is starting to pick up his productivity as he actually got things going early. D-Fish led the way allowing the Lakers to open a double digit lead in the first. Then just as the Hawks began to creep back into the game before halftime, the Lake Show dropped the curtain with a 14-0 run that pretty much sealed the deal.
After the first half Atlanta was never able to get back in the contest and that is what makes this win a great building block. Showing that forgotten killer instinct, the Lakers never let their foot of the pedal. Equally important were the contributions of Ron Artest in addition to Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown off the bench.
This was a total team effort that hopefully will translate into tomorrow night’s contest in Portland. With the regular season building to its climax this was exactly how this squad needed to answer the bell. Let’s just hope they keep giving this type of an effort from here out.