The Los Angeles Lakers (3-15)and the Atlanta Hawks (12-9) meet at Philips Arena to launch the third stop on the official Kobe Bryant farewell tour.
Shaq, Charles, Reggie, Isaiah, C-Webb, Lisa Leslie & everyone over @NBAonTNT with the wildest graphic: #Kobe 121-104 pic.twitter.com/5lAIxwY3on — SoCal Sports 4 You (@SoCalSports4You) December 4, 2015
Atlanta started the season winning seven of its first eight games, but the Hawks have lost eight of 13 games since. Point guard Jeff Teague and forwards Paul Millsap and Al Horford lead the balanced Hawks' attack. As a note, Teague is listed as probable to play on Friday due to an ankle problem. The trio of Hawks combines to score over 50 points per game, on average, and Teague leads the team in assists, 6.4. Teague plays a major part in the Hawks' offense.
Former Laker Kent Bazemore is next on the Hawks' scoring list, 11.6 points per game, while Kyle Korver is off to a slow start in the scoring department despite shooting 44 percent on three-pointers and nearly 50 percent from the field. Running Korver off the three-point line should be a point off emphasis for the Lakers on Friday.
The Lakers arrive in Atlanta on the back of a rare victory. In Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Bryant scored 31 points in a throwback performance that had the arena chanting his name and genuinely losing its mind as he sunk two clutch shots in the final minute. After playing four games in five nights and logging 36 minutes, Bryant appears to be finding his regular season legs.
\Beyond Bryant, the Lakers played with active hands on the defensive side of the ball and also moved the ball on the offensive end. Plagued with one-on-one play early in the season, the Lakers seemingly began to break bad habits in the nation's capital. Of course, it helped to have Bryant hitting shots, too. LA's defensive activity provided more cause for optimism than the improved offensive output. The Lakers 18 steals en route to the win over the Wizards.
On Friday, Atlanta expects to put on an exhibition in ball movement, as Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer fell off the Gregg Popovich coaching tree. Budenholzer spent 18 seasons as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs and managed to win NBA Coach of the Year in his second season with the Hawks.
The Hawks won 60 games in 2014-15. In contrast, the Lakers lost 61 games in 2014-15, and the best chance of the Lakers avoiding another 60-loss season would be to start winning as soon as possible—starting with Friday. Tip-off is 5 p.m. Pacific Time.
Key Matchup: Julius Randle versus Paul Millsap