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Lakers’ 114-109 over Atlanta shows plenty of positive signs

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error ATLANTA >> The Lakers needed to clear the air. So they worked their frustration over their league-worst defense into having an extended film session, both to watch and talk about their problems.The Lakers needed some energy. So as Nick Young returned after sitting out the past six weeks with a surgically repaired right thumb, he playfully talked trash with his teammates by proclaiming himself as the best all-time 3-point shooter. The Lakers also needed a win. So they ensured a 114-109 victory on Tuesday over the Atlanta Hawks (5-5) at Philips Arena by outlining a blueprint lacking in their four-game losing streak. In what marked the Lakers’ first road win, they provided an offense that went beyond Kobe Bryant shooting at a high volume. His 28 points on an efficient 10-of-18 shooting represented a strong supporting cast that also included Carlos Boozer (20 points), Jordan Hill (18 points), Young (17 points) and Jeremy Lin (15 points, 10 assists). “It’s like my swag rubbed off on everybody,” Young said afterward. “It’s unbelievable.” “The question to the guys was, ‘Are we asking you to do things that are impossible for you to do,’” Scott recalled. “‘Or are there things you have to think about too much? Because we’ll try to simplify everything as much as possible.’ The answer they gave was no. It’s not impossible and not difficult. When you say that, I’m anxious to see how we play tonight.”It turns out Lakers guard Ronnie Price both spearheaded the meeting and represented the lone player who talked.“Everyone shares things differently each time,” Price said. “I just talked about the same things we’ve been talking about for the past four weeks.”That entailed both guards and frontcourt players equally communicating on defense. Granted, the Lakers still allowed Atlanta to shoot 47 of 57 from the field. The Hawks also stormed out of the third quarter with a 13-0 run. Bryant also delayed in contesting Pero Antic’s missed 3-pointer that could have tied the game. But the Lakers still held Atlanta in the first quarter with a season-low 20 points. The Lakers also limited the Hawks to only two field goals in the final two minutes. What triggered the change?“The fact I told them that if they didn’t play, I would take them out,” Scott said. “That had something to do with it.” It also helped Bryant still led the way, becoming the fourth player to reach 32,000 points along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan. Bryant provided a left hook shot that put the Lakers up 105-100 with 2:30 left. Bryant then drew a foul on a patented 20-foot fade-away, a three-point play that extended the lead to 108-102 with 1:11 remaining and sparked the partisan Lakers’ crowd into endless “Kobe” chants.“That’s my job,” said Bryant. He was then asked if his high-volume shooting stemmed from remaining only 292 points from eclipsing Jordan for third place on the league’s all-time scoring list. “There’s always something,” Bryant said. “I’m not going to waste my time trying to shut people up.”Instead, the Lakers spent their time making the small but significant first step into climbing out of the Western Conference cellar. center_img Young’s return to the lineup injected all sorts of energy. He provided the Lakers (2-9) a definitive scoring option to complement Bryant. Young also lightened the Lakers’ mood with his playful personality that included plenty of smiles and trash talk. That partly entailed Young ranking himself ahead of Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, either Golden State’s Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson and Larry Bird as the best 3-point shooter. “It lifts the spirit of the guys,” Bryant said of Young’s presence. “It keeps things light. I think it’s great. That’s great leadership from that standpoint.”Yet, the Lakers positive presence also traces elsewhere. The Lakers’ worst start in franchise history had looked so abysmal through three weeks that they have already resorted to something most teams have during a moment of crisis. They held a meeting.Granted, Lakers coach Byron Scott stressed the dialogue took place in on Monday evening in what he called “a normal film session.” But the circumstances changed. In normal cases, Scott said his film sessions entail reviewing both offensive and defensive plays. On Monday night, Scott held a film session he described as “long” that solely entailed the Lakers’ defense, which has averaged a league-worst 112 points per game.last_img read more