Unlike the last meeting in Los Angeles, the season finale between the Hawks and Lakers came down to the final minutes in Atlanta, but Trae Young’s 11th 30 point game would not be enough to snap Los Angeles’ 13-game road winning streak.
The presence of Lebron James, Anthony Davis, and company was too much for the Hawks. Trae Young’s spectacular 30-7-7 (PTS-Rebs-Asts) game was overshadowed by Lebron’s casual 32-13-7 game. Atlanta had no answer for The King, particularly in the first half, as he racked up 23 points on 9-12 from the field, a 75 % clip, carrying the NBA’s premier duo the night after watching his son knock off his high school alma mater.
The Hawks came out with life in the second half. Trae Young splashed a three to cap off a 7-0 run, tying the game, and causing Frank Vogel to call a timeout. However, the Lakers would respond with a 13-3 run of their own, stretching their lead to double digits in the blink of an eye.
As the third quarter wound down, Cam Reddish hit a big three, and Vince Carter splashed a jumper to cap yet another 7-0 run, bringing the game within two and setting us up for a marvelous finish. Late in the fourth, Lloyd Pierce’s Coaches Challenge with under 2 minutes to go allowed the Hawks an opportunity to tie the game, but they could not take advantage.
With one last chance at their disposal, Coach Pierce drew up a brilliant play that schemed Reddish wide open in the corner for a game-tying three. With Jared Dudley and the rest of the circus animals on the Lakers bench screaming who knows what in his year, the rookie out of Duke clanked one off the iron. It was a frustrating moment for Reddish, who walked to the bench with his head down in disgust, but one that he will surely benefit from as his career moves forward.
The Hawks played tough and tight all night long, but could not take advantage of their opportunities consistently, which is a must when playing the Western Conference’s best team. This win gives the Lakers their 14th straight win on the road, as they haven’t lost a game outside of the Staples Center all season (their only road loss came to the Clippers on opening night).
The Hawks’ defensive presence was much better tonight, forcing the Lakers to commit a season-high 22 turnovers, which is why Atlanta was able to stay within arm’s length for the full four quarters. However, 20 turnovers of their own continued their trend of sloppy play and prevented them from pulling the upset.
The most significant blow of the night was when Kevin Huerter exited the game early in the fourth quarter. He was later diagnosed with a shoulder contusion. This is the same injury to the same shoulder that kept Huerter out nearly a month until recently. Hawks’ Coach, Lloyd Pierce said, “I think he’s okay,” following the game, and Red Velvet believes it is not as severe as the injury he suffered in Denver. Hopefully, Huerter won’t have to miss many, if any, games because of it. The Hawks have already been ravaged by the injury bug early this season.
Trae led the Hawks in scoring with Jabari Parker (12 points, five rebounds) and Cam Reddish (10 points and five rebounds) to follow.
The Hawks will face the New York Knicks on Tuesday (12/17) night at Madison Square Garden.
The Lakers will face the Pacers on Tuesday night as well in the Hoosier State.