When the Los Angeles Lakers started Sunday's game against the Atlanta Hawks trailing 10-2, the script seemed all too familiar for a team that had lost nine games in a row and had struggled to compete in the last couple outings.
This time, however, the team did not fold and managed to lead by two points at the end of the first quarter. By halftime, that advantage had popped up to 18 points, as the Lakers outscored the worst team in the NBA 37-21 in the second period. From there, it was smooth sailing to victory for a team that has been dealing with stormy waters all winter long.
For the first time since Nov. 21 against the Chicago Bulls, the Lakers collected a home win, 132-113. It was also the Lakers' first win of 2018 and only the team's second win in its last 14 games.
"It feels good, obviously," Lakers coach Luke Walton said about the win after the game. "They scored 113 (points), but I was still happy with the defense that w played. I think it triggered everything for us tonight."
LA was inspired by strong play from center Brook Lopez, whose defensive intensity helped LA erase the early deficit and turn around the narrative of the game. Lopez finished the night with eight points, four steals, two blocks, three rebounds and two assists in 19 active minutes on the court.
Brandon Ingram continued his strong play from a couple nights earlier and tabbed 20 points and seven assists against the Hawks. Julius Randle held his starting spot and finished the night with 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists in 23 minutes.
"It was different," Ingram said about the locker room's mood following the win. "I don't think anyone likes losing, especially with some of the talent we have in this room and how hard we work in practice. I think today we had a little bit more energy, a little more rhythm to our game, and it looked like we were confident in everything we did."
For the Hawks, Dennis Schroder finished the night with 27 points to lead all scorers, and the German guard also passed off five assists and grabbed three rebounds. Former Laker Kent Bazemore scored 15 points for a Hawks team that seemed over-matched on the night.
Lonzo Ball, who had been the center of controversy earlier in the day due to comments made by his father and his response to those comments, played his best game since returning from a shoulder sprain that kept the rookie point guard out for six games. Ball finished the night with 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and had a couple crowd-energizing slam dunks.
However, Walton shared that Ball was a bit fatigued and asked for early substitutions. When asked about the rotations and Ball's early exit in the first quarter, the coach took the opportunity to crack a joke about the rookie's outspoken father.
"His dad was talking [expletive], so I took him out early," Walton said with a straight face. He added, "I'm just kidding."
Seemingly, a win was exactly what the doctor ordered for the purple and gold, and snapping the streak even led to the coach making a public joke about the touchiest of subjects around the team: LaVar Ball.
Next, the Lakers host the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.