Sports Out West

Hawks vs. Lakers: Kobe Bryant turns back the clock in 99-98 win

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The Los Angeles Lakers overcame bad transition defense and turnovers to defeat the Atlanta Hawks, 99-98, on Sunday night at Staples Center. 

Kobe Bryant was his vintage self, scoring 34 points on 13-of-27 shooting, including 2-of-5 from the 3-point line and a vicious dunk in the fourth quarter that got the crowd back into the tightly-contested game. Dwight Howard was active, adding 11 points and 15 rebounds. Though he only blocked one shot, he changed several others, including one on a critical possession late in the fourth quarter that prevented Josh Smith from scoring on a potential go-ahead dunk. 

Steve Nash had a double-double of his own, scoring 15 points and adding 10 assists. Steve Blake continued to lead the Lakers’ bench mob with eight points and five assists and got the final steal of the game that sealed the win. 

The Hawks (33-25) got a strong performance from Al Horford, who has played like an All-Star over the second half of the season. The big man led the Hawks with 24 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the field and added five rebounds, three assists and three steals. The Lakers (30-30) overcame 21 turnovers that helped initiate 24 Hawks fast break points by shooting 48.7 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from beyond the arc. 

The Lakers moved to .500 for the first time since Jan. 1 , and will have a difficult test to stay there as they travel to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night. 

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.