LeBron James, Anthony Davis Combine for 59 as Lakers Edge Trae Young, Hawks

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IIIDecember 16, 2019

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 15:  LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after dunking against the Atlanta Hawks in the first half at State Farm Arena on December 15, 2019 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

The Los Angeles Lakers pocketed their seventh straight victory by defeating the Atlanta Hawks 101-96 at State Farm Arena on Sunday night. 

The Hawks gave the Lakers a scare, though. It was a one-possession game with under 20 seconds remaining after rookie fourth overall pick De'Andre Hunter made both of his free throws to bring the Hawks within 98-96.

Mike Trudell @LakersReporter

ATL won their challenge on a foul called on Parker (who blocked Davis), and LAL then missed a shot, and lost their challenge as Davis tried to block Hunter at the rim. Result: 2 ATL FT’s with 19.8 seconds left. 98-96, LAL ball.

The Lakers were able to hold on. Atlanta rookie Cam Reddish missed a three-pointer that would have tied the game at 99, and Danny Green made two free throws on the other end to secure the result.

Chris Kirschner @ChrisKirschner

Hawks had a chance to tie at the end. Cam Reddish missed a wide open 3 after Vince Carter caught LeBron sleeping thinking he was going for the quick 2. Hawks are now 6-21 after the 101-96 loss to the Lakers.

The biggest disparities between the teams came from behind the three-point line and at the free-throw line. Atlanta shot 28.6 percent from deep compared to a putrid 16.1 percent by L.A., while the Hawks' 88.0 percent free-throw shooting outweighed the Lakers' 72.7 percent.

The Lakers entered State Farm Arena having shot just 69.4 percent on free throws in their last three games (h/t Silver Screen and Roll).

Regardless, L.A. has now further cushioned its lead atop the Western Conference to 4.5 games over the 20-8 Los Angeles Clippers. 

The 6-21 Hawks, meanwhile, have dropped four contests in a row.

The Lakers were without forward Kyle Kuzma (ankle) for the third straight game, while Atlanta has been without forward John Collins since Nov. 5 when the league suspended him 25 games for violating the NBA's Anti-Drug Program.


Notable Stats

LAL F LeBron James: 32 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks

LAL F Anthony Davis: 27 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks

LAL G Rajon Rondo: 11 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals

ATL G Trae Young: 30 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals

ATL F Jabari Parker: 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block

ATL F De'Andre Hunter: 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block

LeBron James Looks Sharp Despite Elbow Concerns 

James had been listed as questionable for Sunday's game with right elbow soreness from the Lakers' 113-110 win over the Miami Heat on Friday night, but the King made it evident why head coach Frank Vogel opted to let him play.

The 34-year-old 15-time All-Star seemed completely unbothered by his elbow while dunking incessantly on the Hawks:

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

Reporting live from Atlanta, Georgia 👑 https://t.co/wPU8KEFVJ7

Spectrum SportsNet @SpectrumSN

Look out below! 🔨 https://t.co/oPbyyA9lAM

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

Year 17. Still making it look easy. #LakeShow https://t.co/jnbASzxLIf

James entered halftime with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field (2-of-3 from three), seven rebounds and just one assist. However, he made his only first-half assist count and even jokingly went for a block against his own teammate:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Bron went no-look and between the legs on the dime to Dwight 😱 https://t.co/Lq7PaBp5qC

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Rondo faked the oop so Bron faked the block 💀 https://t.co/hawb4lYCJl

This type of performance from James at this point in his career does not move the needle, but it held some significance following his relatively sloppy outing in Miami two days ago. James committed eight turnovers, his season-high for a game, including seven in the first half. 

"Well, we were down today because of me," James admitted to ESPN's Dave McMenamin after that game. "I was reckless."

James even more colorfully assessed his "passive" play to ESPN's Israel Gutierrez in his walk-off interview (h/t McMenamin): 

"My teammates got on my ass. They told me you're playing too passive, thinking about the game way too much instead of read and reacting and doing what you do. ... [Anthony Davis] got on me, Boogie Cousins got on me and they told me to just be me. So I was like, 'Thank god we have two halves in a basketball game,' where I can flush the first one and then come back and try to help us win."

Atlanta held James to nine points in the second half, but he had six second-half assists to compensate for it alongside Davis getting hot.

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

Offense or defense: You don't want to be left alone against @AntDavis23. (📺: @SpectrumSN) https://t.co/KY2l49ssQW

One area the rest of James' teammates couldn't help him in was three-point shooting. The three-time NBA champion went 4-of-10 from deep, and other Lakers went a combined 1-of-21.

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

Bron's feeling it. (📺: @SpectrumSN) https://t.co/9ANIkW1LwN

L.A. was able to get away with shaky execution in Atlanta, but it will be more interesting to see how the West's best squad shapes up during a much tougher stretch. The Lakers' six remaining December matchups feature opponents with a collective 105-52 record, including the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks (24-3) on Thursday and second-place Los Angeles Clippers (20-8) on Christmas Day.


Last-Place Hawks Hang Around But Lose Kevin Huerter to Injury

The Lakers struggled to play consistent basketball, shooting 5-of-31 (16.1 percent) from three and turning the ball over 22 times. That, in part, allowed the inferior Hawks to linger until the final buzzer.

Silver Screen & Roll @LakersSBN

Teams end up losing this game almost 9 times out of 10 https://t.co/AOYM6IeDeI

But the Hawks simply didn't have enough offense to pull off the upset. They shot just 36.0 percent for the game.

Mike Trudell @LakersReporter

LAL wanted to cut down their turnovers after 13 at the half, and hit their open shots in the 3rd Q … instead, they’ve turned the ball over on 4 of 5 possessions, and had a missed wide open 3 on the other (Green). ATL took advantage w/a 7-0 run to tie the game.

Guard Kevin Huerter left the contest with what the team described as a left shoulder contusion suffered in the fourth while trying to defend a James three-pointer. The 21-year-old went to the locker room. It is the same shoulder that kept him out from Nov. 12 to Dec. 4.

Atlanta already has an issue when it comes to surrounding Young with an apt supporting cast. With Collins still serving his suspension, losing Huerter again would not help the Hawks develop their young core. 

What's Next? 

Both squads will return to action Tuesday. The Lakers will visit the Indiana Pacers, and the Hawks will be in New York to play the Knicks.