The Atlanta Hawks took the floor last night without Josh Smith, Jeff Teague, Zaza Pachulia, and DeShawn Stevenson available to play.
Despite those key absences, the Hawks pulled out a 96-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers and saw the opposition leave in a banged-up state. Kobe Bryant suffered an 11-for-33 shooting performance and twisted his left ankle with seconds to go when he took (and missed) a potential game-tying basket. He landed awkwardly on Dahntay Jones' foot and rolled his ankle, and the Lakers are saying that Bryant is out indefinitely.
The win was an unlikely one for the Hawks, as it was just their second win in eight games. Some unfamiliar names stepped up to fill the box score:
- Johan Petro got a rare dose of big minutes, starting against Dwight Howard and notching a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Howard was held in check with 10 points and 16 rebounds, only going to the line three times (a far cry from his 39 free throws in Orlando Tuesday night.)
- Devin Harris started for Teague and put in 17 points and seven assists, while holding Steve Nash to just 11 points and seven assists himself. He had nine straight points in the fourth quarter.
- Rookie John Jenkins added 12 points, including a free throw in the closing seconds to make it a four-point game.
- Ivan Johnson had 12 points and eight rebounds, and was often quicker than Howard in getting to loose balls.
- Kyle Korver had 15 points, six rebounds, and two blocks.
- Newcomer Shelvin Mack even had seven points and two rebounds.
The Hawks held on to the ball much better last night, committing only 12 turnovers (compared to the 24 they had against Miami). Atlanta led 55-43 at the half, but almost gave it back behind a 20-point third quarter by Bryant. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Bryant and the rest of the Lakers went cold in the fourth and the Lakers continued their yearlong woes against quality opponents on the road (now 2-16 against opponents above .500 away from the Staples Center)
Atlanta (34-25) now gets to breathe a big sigh of relief in stopping a decent team and stopping the bloodletting from losing six of seven. They will next face Phoenix (22-43) on Friday night at Philips Arena and should have some of their big names back on the court by then.