ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Hawks nearly let the struggling Los
Angeles Lakers off the hook in the second half.
With three starters and a top backup out with injuries, the
Hawks almost blew their biggest lead of the season Monday night
before recovering in the final 2 minutes to beat the Lakers
The Lakers, down by 29 points in the second quarter, cut the
Hawks' lead to a point before Tony Delk hit eight free throws in
the final minute for Atlanta.
The Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak to become the last
Eastern Conference team to reach 10 wins. The Lakers are left with
their second three-game losing streak in the last two weeks.
"We lost the game because we're just playing horrible, because
our energy level is real low," said Lamar Odom, who led the Lakers
with 28 points. "We're just coming out lame. Right now we're
playing a less than mediocre game."
Kobe Bryant, sidelined since Jan. 13 by a severely sprained
right ankle, watched from behind the Lakers' bench. Bryant could
return on the road trip, which continues with games at New Jersey,
Detroit and Cleveland.
Los Angeles is 0-3 under interim coach Frank Hamblen. He took
over last week when Rudy Tomjanovich resigned as head coach.
The Hawks were without starters Al Harrington, Tyronn Lue and
Josh Smith, and backup forward Peja Drobnjak left with a sprained
ankle in the first period. Harrington, the team's second-leading
scorer and rebounder, was placed on injured reserve Monday.
The patchwork Hawks' lineup came out running, scoring the first
14 points of the game and first 10 points of the second period with
an unusual emphasis on fast-break points.
"I said pregame that we had to get out and run, that we
couldn't stay in a half-court game with this team," Hawks coach
Mike Woodson said. "We got stops early and then just got the ball
out and pushed it and guys made plays in the open court for us."
Rookie Josh Childress was especially effective in the up-tempo
style, setting career highs with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
"We were anxious that we not blow an opportunity," Childress
said. "We just wanted to win. To lose that game would have been
Antoine Walker, who led the Hawks with 26 points, made two late
baskets and Delk added 25 while protecting the lead at the
free-throw line in the final minute.
One of Walker's baskets came after the Lakers pulled within a
point at 98-97 on Chucky Atkins' 3-pointer.
"There was a little panic," Hawks guard Donta Smith said.
"They were hitting everything they touched. We got a little
"It was not so much panic as a sense of anxiety," Childress
said. "We just wanted to make sure we closed out the game."
Walker helped make sure the Hawks didn't blow the lead.
Walker set up Boris Diaw for a layup and a 102-97 lead with 1:42
left, and added a jumper over Lamar Odom with 47 seconds left.
Tierre Brown set a career high with 27 points for the Lakers,
and Atkins had 25.
"I'd advise everybody on my team not to turn on the TV, not to
read the paper," Lakers guard Caron Butler said.
The largest deficit the Lakers have overcome to win a game this
season was 12 points against Orlando on Dec. 12.
The Hawks set a season high with their 62 first-half
points. ... Brown's previous career high was 16.