Los Angeles Lakers vs. Atlanta Hawks NBA Preview

Jeff LittleSenior Writer INovember 1, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27:  (L-R) Ron Artest #37 and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers sit on the bench during the season opening game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on October 27, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 99-92.  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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Lakers are back on the hardwood tonight against a talented Atlanta Hawks team. Hopefully, the Lakers will bring and employ their defense tonight at the Staples Center.

The Lakers took one on the chin and were beaten by the Mavericks on Friday because of poor shooting and not being able to stop a familiar tactic: the pick and roll play.

The loss was their worst at home in two years.

Los Angeles needs to shake off the rust and put on a bounce-back performance. Being stunned at home by an opponent that you had beaten six times in a row could be the type of wake up call this team needs.

The Lakers have a favorable schedule to start the season that could easily vault them in the Western Conference Standings but they’ll have to play night-and-day better than what we saw against Dallas.

Los Angeles is still playing without All-Star Power Forward Pau Gasol who has yet to make his 2009-2010 season debut, it is doubtful that it will be tonight.

The team doesn’t look the same without him.

The ironic thing is that Gasol was the third pick in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. He was traded to the Vancouver Grizzlies on draft day.

However, it must be said that I have no idea how Kwame Brown & Tyson Chandler were selected ahead of him.

His absence is no excuse for how lethargic the team was defensively. The coaching staff will have film of the game as a teaching tool. It is necessary because the Atlanta Hawks are averaging 110 points per game.

All-Star Shooting Guard Joe Johnson is averaging 21 points per game and has shot 50 percent or better against the Lakers in six of his last seven games in Los Angeles. Josh Smith is averaging 19 points per game. Running the offense for the Hawks is veteran Point Guard Mike Bibby who has played well against the Lakers on more than one occasion.

Andrew Bynum has been solid this season, averaging 20 points and 11.5 rebounds but he will need help against Atlanta’s talented young front court of Al Horford, Marvin Williams and Josh Smith. Horford is averaging 17 points 14 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game.

*The remainder of the Preview is in the Locker Room*