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Lakers demonstrate growth in 123-116 victory over Atlanta Hawks

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error After providing the team with leadership more than with work ethic than efficiency, Lou Williams scored 16 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. He opened the quarter converting on three foul shots. The Georgia native later made a 27-foot 3-pointer just as the shot clock expired to put the Lakers up 116-112 with 2:11 left.“When you see the ball going into the basket, your energy level goes up,” Williams said. “Your confidence goes up.”So did Lakers guard Nick Young. After feeling more empowered for Lakers coach Luke Walton than he ever did for Byron Scott, Young showed even more elation. He nailed a dagger 3-pointer to give the Lakers a 121-114 cushion in the final minute.“It felt good,” said Young, who had 17 points on 6 of 11 shooting. “I knew it was going in before it left my hands.”Initially, it did not seem the Lakers would become equipped to end their trip this way. ATLANTA >> The entire week presented endless clips of a young Lakers team still figuring out how to win close road games.Despite nursing fatigue and a diminished roster, the Lakers finally unloaded a new resume reel. They secured a 123-116 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday at Philips Arena, which was both the Lakers’ first road victory in a four-game trip and provided the blueprint on how to finish.After becoming plagued with shooting troubles, the Lakers (2-3) handed Atlanta (3-1) its first loss by finding consistency with their production. D’Angelo Russell (23 points on 9 of 19 shooting, six assists), Jordan Clarkson (16 points on 7 of 12 shooting) and Larry Nance Jr. (12 points on 6 of 8 shooting, six rebounds) all provided energy when their previous efforts rarely coincided with one another.“We got some killers on our team,” Russell said. “I tried to do a good job in keeping everybody balanced and getting the ball to the guys that were hot and the open guy. That made it easy for me.”center_img Walton had questioned the team’s slow starts. He suggested the team’s poor shooting stemmed from playing in varying time zones during its five-day, four-game trip. Lakers center Timofey Mozgov missed Wednesday’s game because of a lacerated right eye. After a CT scan taken on Wednesday proved inconclusive, he will take more tests and see more doctors on Thursday in Los Angeles.In his place, Lakers rookie Ivica Zubac had the unfortunate assignment in stopping Atlanta center Dwight Howard.While Howard had 31 points on 12 of 16 shooting and 11 rebounds, Zubac had nearly as many fouls (four) as points (six) and rebounds (three).“You have to be between the basket and him and hope he’s going to miss,” Zubac said. “It’s hard. He can back down everyone. I was just holding my hands in the air and hoping he was going to miss.”Still, Walton praised Zubac that “he didn’t look nervous” and was “pleased with his effort.”Walton said the same thing about the Lakers, which he described as the “most focused we’ve been all season.”They shot 40.9 percent from 3-point range. They outrebounded the Hawks 41-37. They held the Hawks to 22 points in the final period.All of which showed the Lakers growing gradually. All of which allowed the Lakers to travel back to Los Angeles in a happier mood.“It’s good for the guys,” Walton said. “It makes it easier to continue to want to work hard.”last_img read more