ATLANTA (AP) -- The Los Angeles Lakers were fed up with losing to
lesser teams. They took out their frustrations on the Atlanta
Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his 32 points in the first quarter and
Los Angeles routed the Hawks 127-93 on Tuesday night.
"We were aware of who we were playing tonight," Rick Fox said.
"We can't continue the spirit of giving."
The defending NBA champions halted a mini-slump in which they
had dropped three of four games, starting with a 16-point home loss
to woeful Denver.
Despite a 30-12 record, the Lakers have lost to all four
last-place teams since Dec. 21. They reversed that trend with a
dominating performance against the league's worst defensive squad.
"We had such a good rhythm, we didn't have to execute," Bryant
Los Angeles had a season high in points, racing to a 68-41 lead
at halftime and reaching triple digits on Derek Fisher's layup with
1:08 remaining in the third quarter.
Bryant was unstoppable in the opening period as the Hawks tried
to guard him with Jason Terry, who is 5 inches shorter. Wowing the
sellout crowd with spins and head fakes, Bryant hit 10-of-12 shots
to give the Lakers to a 32-20 lead.
"They had a little guard on me," he said. "I made it a point
to post up and be a little more aggressive."
Terry felt helpless against Bryant.
"They came out and showed they weren't going to let up," Terry
said. "I had my best defense on, but that wasn't enough. He had
his best offense on."
Bryant had as many points in the first as the entire Hawks team.
He eclipsed Michael Jordan's 18-point performance on Dec. 19, which
had been the previous high surrendered by Atlanta in a quarter.
Shaquille O'Neal added 23 points and Fisher 20 for the Lakers,
who shot a staggering 57.5 percent (50-of-87) from the field -- and
that included a 10-of-24 performance in the fourth quarter.
The Hawks trailed by at least 20 points for the final 32 minutes
and fell behind by as many as 40 late in the game.
"A lot of times we get a couple of leads and relax a little
bit," Bryant said. "Tonight, we just wanted to keep going at
The score really could have gotten out of hand if not for the
compassion of Lakers coach Phil Jackson. Bryant played only 15
minutes after going the entire first quarter, and O'Neal was on the
court for just 26 minutes.
Five reserves played at least 17 minutes apiece, led by Fisher's
team-high 30 minutes.
"I had to sit Kobe down," Jackson said. "He was going to
A year ago, the Hawks pulled off a thrilling 108-106 victory
over the Lakers at Philips Arena, one of the few bright spots in a
dismal season. Los Angeles was focused on payback.
"We remembered the game from last year, no doubt about it,"
The Hawks shot just 41.8 percent (41-of-98). Shareef
Abdur-Rahim, named to his first All-Star team earlier in the day,
was about the only bright spot with 21 points.
The Hawks, who were allowing 100.8 points per game, managed one
moral victory: They didn't eclipse their previous high for points
surrendered, a 129-94 loss to Orlando last month.
"When you lose like that, nobody's doing what he's supposed to
do," Abdur-Rahim said. "They came in and did what they wanted to
The Lakers' previous season high for points was 121 in a
victory at Detroit on Jan. 8. ... The Hawks had just their second
sellout (19,742) of the season, most of them cheering for the
Lakers. "It was bad that the whole city was cheering for them,"
Abdur-Rahim said. The other sellout at Philips Arena came in
Atlanta's home opener against Jordan and the Wizards. ... As usual,
the stars came out with the Lakers in town. "Rush Hour" star
Chris Tucker was sitting at courtside, and boxing champion Vernon
Forrest, fresh off his upset victory over Shane Mosley, stopped by
the press table at halftime.