Lakers try to get back to .500 against Hawks
The Los Angeles Lakers have a chance to get their record to .500 for the first time in 2013 Sunday night when they welcome the Atlanta Hawks to the Staples Center.
The Lakers have won four of their last five and are 9-4 since the start of February. That has inched them up the standings and can make them .500 for the first time since a Dec. 28 win at home over the Portland Trail Blazers.
"You know. we were playing well going into the All-Star break, but we laid a couple eggs against Boston and the Clippers, but for the most part we've been playing pretty well," said Kobe Bryant.
The team only trails the Houston Rockets by 2 1/2 games for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
Bryant was named the West's Player of the Month for February. He averaged 23.9 ppg, 6.6 apg and 6.7 rpg during the month and was asked after Thursday's victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves if he was gearing toward a run at a second MVP.
"I'm just trying to get into the playoffs," he said. "I play for one thing and one thing only and that's winning championships. So maybe if we had started off the season a little bit better and if our record was a little bit better, maybe."
The Lakers beat the Wolves for the 21st straight time on Thursday, 116-94. Bryant scored 33 points in only 31 minutes as five other Lakers scored in double figures.
The Hawks had a four-game winning streak snapped on Friday night in Phoenix against the Suns. That was game four of a six-game road swing and it started beautifully with three straight wins.
Atlanta fell 92-87 and had to work to make it a game. The Hawks trailed by 11 after three quarters, but just didn't have enough to catch the Suns.
"We didn't play very well tonight, that's the bottom line," said head coach Larry Drew. "Maybe we needed a game like this to snap us back into reality. It's been good for us these first three games of the road trip, playing well."
Al Horford led the Hawks with 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting. Kyle Korver was next with 17 points on 3-for-6 from long range. Devin Harris and Anthony Tolliver both scored in double digits.
Josh Smith had an uncharacteristically bad night. He went 2-for-11 from the field en route to five points. He did had 10 rebounds and five assists, but also committed five turnovers.
"I didn't have a good game," admitted Smith.
The Hawks committed 21 turnovers, which led to 21 Suns points. Phoenix also shot 45 percent from beyond the arc.
The Lakers have won three in a row against the Hawks and six in a row at home.