L.A. snaps losing skid behind 24 points from Bryant

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- After three ordinary performances, Caron Butler showed the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans what he can do.

Butler shot 10-of-14 and scored 22 points Sunday night as the Lakers handed Atlanta its third straight lopsided loss, beating the winless Hawks 106-90.

As expected, Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 24 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Butler's effort wasn't as expected, considering he scored a total of 26 points in his first three games for the Lakers.

"I was just running the floor. My teammates were finding me," he said. "Obviously they are going to collapse on Kobe and Lamar (Odom) and I am going to get a lot of open looks. I was knocking them down.

"I think I'm at my best in transition. We got up-and-down -- that's our offense," he said.

Butler came to the Lakers from Miami along with Odom and Brian Grant in the offseason trade that sent Shaquille O'Neal to the Heat.

"For him, it's just about getting comfortable and getting into a flow," Bryant said of the 24-year-old Butler. "He has had some injuries here and there so that has kind of broken up his rhythm. But once he gets into his rhythm, he is very capable of having these kind of nights."

Butler got another injury in this game, spraining his left ankle early in the fourth quarter.

"It's sore right now. We'll see what happens," he said. "It should be all right."

Chris Mihm had 19 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots for the Lakers (2-2), who snapped a two-game losing streak. Tierre Brown had 13 points and five assists; Odom added 11 points and 11
rebounds, and Jumaine Jones also scored 11.

"Kobe's a good player, but he's also got a good supporting cast," Atlanta's Antoine Walker said. "A lot of those guys made shots tonight. We weren't necessarily worried about stopping Kobe. We didn't want the other guys to get off tonight, and a couple of guys did."

The Lakers shot 56 percent and outrebounded Atlanta 40-31. The Hawks shot 43 percent.

"When you're fast-breaking like that, everyone has an equal opportunity," Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich said in explaining why his team had six players score in double figures.

Regarding Butler, Tomjanovich said: "This kid is a developing player, and tonight was a big step in the right direction."

Al Harrington led Atlanta with 22 points. Walker added 20 for the Hawks, who have lost their three games by a total of 67 points. Peja Drobjnak added 13 points and rookie Royal Ivey scored 10.

"That team came in averaging 87 points a game, and we gave up 106 points to them," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "So it's not our offense. Guys have to make a commitment defensively, in terms of being able to keep people in front of them.

"We just haven't bought in as a unit. ... A lot of it has to do with just flat-out effort," he said.

The Lakers put the game away by outscoring the Hawks 11-2 to finish the third quarter for an 87-66 lead. Mihm had 12 points and five rebounds in the period.

With Bryant scoring seven points and Jones adding five, the Lakers went on a 20-7 run to finish the first quarter and start the second for a 40-28 lead.

The Hawks weren't closer than six points after that.

Butler outscored the Hawks 10-2 by himself as the Lakers extended their lead to 57-43. It was 59-45 at halftime. Butler had 14 points in the first half.

Game notes
Atlanta's Jason Collier missed his second game because of bronchitis, leaving 42-year-old Kevin Willis as the Hawks' starting center. Willis picked up two fouls in the first 33 seconds. He had four points and three rebounds in 13 minutes. ... The Hawks and
Sacramento Kings are the only NBA teams who haven't played a home game. Both play their home openers on Tuesday night -- Atlanta hosts Phoenix and Sacramento entertains Toronto. ... The Lakers play four road games in five nights beginning Tuesday in New Orleans. "There
is no strategy for what's coming up," Tomjanovich said. "Double back-to-backs for this young team is not an ideal situation." ... Tomjanovich said he didn't know when Vlade Divac, Devean George and Slava Medvedenko will be ready to play. All are on the injured list. "I know that it's on the horizon," Tomjanovich said.

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