Los Angeles Lakers vs. Atlanta Hawks: Game Grades and Analysis for Lakers

Christopher Walder@@WalderSportsContributor IIDecember 17, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 16:  DeMarre Carroll #5 of the Atlanta Hawks defends against Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Philips Arena on December 16, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After leading 54-47 at halftime, the Los Angeles Lakers (11-13) gave up 35 points in the third quarter and 67 in the second half to fall to the Atlanta Hawks at Phillips Arena, 114-100.

Atlanta shot 48.9 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from three-point range. They were led by Al Horford's double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds, as well as Jeff Teague's 17 points and 10 assists.

The Lakers shot a respectable 47.9 percent, but a majority of their issues came on the defensive end, as they failed to slow down the Hawks' offensive onslaught in the final two quarters.

Kyle Korver was deadly in the third quarter, nailing three three-pointers to extend his streak to 94 games.

Los Angeles is now 1-4 since the return of Kobe Bryant

Key Players

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 16:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during free throws in the final mintues of their 114-100 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 16, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackn
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant, Point Guard

The Black Mamba shook off a slow start to his season (average of 11 points through his first three games) with a solid all-around effort against the Charlotte Bobcats on December 14, finishing with a near triple-double of 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. 

Was he able to carry over any of that momentum against the Atlanta Hawks?

Well, I'm sure he would have liked his first quarter to have ended better. He did hit three of his first five shots for six early points, but he did turn the ball over four times, with three of those coming in the first two minutes and thirty seconds of the game. 

The team is in dire need of someone to step up and play point guard with Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar all on the sidelines, so there's really no one else to hold down the fort but Bryant. 

He didn't score again until the fourth quarter.

We're all glad to have him back, but it's going to take longer than expected before he's back to where he wants to be physically and, perhaps, emotionally. 

Bryant missed 10 shots from the field, had five turnovers and scored just eight points.

That game against Charlotte seems so long ago now, doesn't it?

At least he made some history, which is the only positive you can take away from his outing. 

Grade: D+

Pau Gasol, Center

It's no secret that Pau Gasol is frustrated with the way his role has changed in the offense. According to a report by Bill Plashke of the Los Angeles Times, the four-time NBA All-Star isn't at all happy with where and when he's getting the basketball, which is ultimately affecting his aggression down low.

After shooting just 6-of-18 from the field and turning the ball over six times against the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night, Gasol looked to get back on the right track early against the Hawks, hitting his first five baskets for 10 points and six rebounds in the opening quarter. 

He would finish the half with a near double-double of 11 points and nine rebounds. He looked interested, motivated and inspired to come out of the gates strong and have himself a statement game. 

That's not how things wound up though. 

Sure, he had a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, but watching the game, you could easily see that he was an absolute non-factor in the second half on both ends of the floor. He wasn't getting nearly as many touches and his body language showed how he felt about that. 

Things looked good at the beginning, but that all faded away as the game progressed.

I'll be generous with my grade because of how well he performed early on, but that's only because I'm feeling the Christmas spirit. 

Grade: B 

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 14:  Jordan Hill #27 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game against the Charlotte Bobcats at the Time Warner Cable Arena on December 14, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees t
Kent Smith/Getty Images

Jordan Hill, Power Forward

I'm starting to think Jordan Hill has a voice in his head constantly telling him where to be on the court, because that was definitely the case against the Hawks.

Whether it was appearing under the rim to crash the glass and grab offensive rebounds or simply being the recipient of good looks from his teammates, Hill was consistently where you wanted him to be at all times. 

His 13 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting were highest on the team in the first half. 

It's hard to give Hill anything lower than an "A" grade considering his shooting percentage remained perfect, he put up a ton of points and made his presence felt on the boards.

Grade: A 

Jodie Meeks, Shooting Guard

You have to give credit to Jodie Meeks for looking to score and attack the basket. He did grow up going to High School in Norcross, Georgia, so there was a bit of a hometown vibe going on for the young guard. For the record, Meeks was born in Tennessee. 

He nearly had a nice tomahawk highlight-reel dunk in the first quarter, although the ball did end up coming loose. He eventually caught the rebound for the easy put-back basket, but that was his only make in his first seven attempts from the floor. 

In fact, that was the two points Meeks would score all night. 

It just wasn't happening. Nick Young and Xavier Henry were on the court late as Meeks sat idly by and watched from the bench. 

Grade: D 

Wesley Johnson, Small Forward

Average. Nothing special.

I may sound harsh, but looking at some of the numbers his fellow wings put up for the second unit, it's hard to notice or even acknowledge what Wesley Johnson did against the Hawks on this night.

He did score six points and grab four rebounds, but it did take him nine shots for those points, so there's that. 

Grade: C

Nick Young, Sixth Man

Swaggy P was swagalicious in the opening half, scoring 12 points and grabbing four rebounds.

He did take nine shots, which was highest on the team at the time, but that's what you get when Nick Young starts feeling it on offense. He's just going to keep hoisting it up until it stops falling.

His two three-pointers were the only long bombs Los Angeles would hit during that span, as the team finished 2-of-9 from behind the arc in the first two quarters. 

His 23 points and five total three-pointers led the Los Angeles Lakers. He didn't bring much on the defensive end, but just imagine where his team would have been had he not been so effective shooting the basketball.

Grade: A-


Xavier Henry had a nice little line for himself of 18 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals for Los Angeles. He may have tried to do too much near the end to try and get his team back in the game, but with Kobe Bryant playing very tame basketball, someone had to step up and at least try to keep things interesting. Henry was drawing fouls (hit all six of his free throws) and driving the lane to create contact and stop the clock. 

Shawne Williams was as ineffective as one man can be defending the likes of Paul Millsap and Al Horford. Ryan Kelly (who has played 12 minutes all season) was eventually called upon to try and slow down Atlanta's bigs, which goes to show how awfully Williams was playing.

Backup center Robert Sacre came off the pine to score six points on 3-of-4 shooting

Bench: B+

What's Next?

The Los Angeles Lakers will play the second game of a back-to-back on December 17 as they take on Mike Conley and the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedExForum.

The team won't play again until December 20 when Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves come to town. 

Follow Featured Columnist/NBA Live Blogger Christopher Walder on Twitter at @WalderSports


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