The Los Angeles Lakers have endured a wildly up-and-down stretch on the road and they hope to end it on a positive note -- and enter the All-Star break above .500 -- when they visit the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. The Lakers sustained losses at Golden State and Indiana by an average of 28 points while they were surrounded by trade deadline drama, only to pull off a dramatic win at Boston on a last-second shot Thursday night.
They then followed that up with an ugly 143-120 setback at Philadelphia on Sunday, sinking 2 1/2 games out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference entering Monday. "We had too many breakdowns," All-Star LeBron James told reporters after Los Angeles allowed the 76ers to shoot 57.7 percent. "Way too many breakdowns. I mean we scored the ball as well as you can score the ball, especially in that first quarter, but we gave up too many paint points." James finished an assist shy of his second straight triple-double and is averaging 22 points, 10.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists in four games since returning from a groin strain. He will take aim at a Hawks squad that allows an NBA-high 118.5 points and has lost five straight at home.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles), FS Southeast (Atlanta) LINE: Lakers -5
ABOUT THE LAKERS (28-28): Forward Kyle Kuzma is playing like someone who is relieved to have survived last week's trade deadline, first scoring 25 points in the win over the Celtics and then putting up 39 at Philadelphia. "You just kind of know people get traded, people get put on the block and people are always in trade rumors," he told reporters Sunday. "Like I have said before, that was our first time around and a lot of us let it get to us." The 23-year-old is 10-for-16 from 3-point range over the two-game hot stretch.
ABOUT THE HAWKS (18-38): Atlanta was outscored 72-49 over the second and third quarters in Sunday's loss to Orlando as it endured a familiar breakdown on one end of the floor. "Our offense wasn't there too much," rookie guard Kevin Huerter told reporters. "But I think our biggest problem is on the defensive end." Alex Len led the Hawks with 16 points in 19 minutes off the bench while Huerter chipped in 15 as Atlanta fell to 8-16 at home.
1. Hawks PG Trae Young is 7-for-12 from beyond the arc over the last three games.
2. Lakers PG Lonzo Ball has missed nine straight games with a sprained ankle.
3. Los Angeles has won five straight meetings.
PREDICTION: Lakers 117, Hawks 113 Bet Now
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