L.A.

Lakers’ bench leads to them past Hawks, 109-94

Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles snapped their two-game losing streak on Sunday night topping the Atlanta Hawks, 109-94.

It was a balanced offensive effort that saw the bench lead the way to a season series sweep of the Hawks. Here are a few things to take away from the Lakers’ ninth win of the year: 

Young Strong In His Return

Following a one-game absence due to a sprained toe, Nick Young didn’t skip a beat in his return to the starting lineup notching 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting in 23 minutes played. 

Young did most of his damage in the first half leading all scorers with 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including going 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. He had the bulk of that in the second quarter notching 12 points that helped the Lakers completely erase an 11-point deficit. 

The 31-year-old is in the midst of a strong start to the season averaging 13.9 points entering Sunday’s contest, which puts him as the fifth-highest scorer on the team. This includes scoring in double figures in all but five games along with notching three 20-point outings. He also improved on his 3-point shooting percentage pushing it north of 40 percent. 

“It was nice to have Nick back in the starting lineup. He has done it all for us,” Head coach Luke Walton said. “He has hit shots when we need it. When the offense isn’t working for us. I thought for not playing for the last three or four days or however long it has been he was really good tonight.”

With D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle still nursing injuries, Young will play a critical role in the team’s offensive firepower. 

Bench Mob 

The one constant theme for the Lakers through the first month of the season has been the play of their bench, which leads the league in scoring at 52.1 points per game. 

Los Angeles’ second unit showed that once again against the Hawks notching 65 points with three players scoring in double figures. They made their biggest impact in the second quarter helping turn a double-digit deficit into a lead at the half. 

Lou Williams led the team in scoring for the eighth time this season with 21 points, including 13 coming in the fourth quarter. Jordan Clarkson recorded 18 points along with five assists. It also marked the 13th time in the first 18 games that the leading scorer has come off the bench. 

Larry Nance Jr. has been quite productive over the last few games, recording his first double-double of the season with 12 points and a season-high 10 rebounds. 

Through the early part of the season, the Lakers’ bench has been arguably the strongest aspect of the team and something that they will need to continue to rely on as the year rolls along. 

“We feel we have a huge advantage when they are on the court,” Walton said. “We try to keep them together.”

Unselfishness

The Lakers over the first 18 games have shown a completely different mentality on the court as a team, which has been lacking over the last three seasons. 

This was on full display against the Hawks with the team missing two of its core piece coming off a pair of discouraging losses to the Golden State Warriors. However, Los Angeles through their unselfish type of mentality overcame being without two primary contributors on Sunday night. 

It’s something that Walton believes come from the team buying into the game plan and ideology. 

“The fact we are 9-9 now speaks to the effort we play with and the trust we have in each other,” Walton said. “It’s been a lot of fun coaching these guys. They are all willing to take certain roles in order for us to win.”

The Lakers have embraced that with no player averaging more than 28 minutes per game, while nine different players are averaging 20-plus minutes per game. This has led to eight different players leading the team in minutes and six different players being the leading scorer. 

“I don’t think we have the mindset where we care about accolades,” Williams said. “We don’t have one guy out there with individual goals in mind.”

This sort of unity and mindset will be tested over the next month with 12 of the next 15 games being on the road, including five sets of back-to-back games. 

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia IV is a sports journalist from Southern California. He's currently the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for Sports Out West. He was previously the beat writer for LA Rams Report for Scout.com, which is a website dedicated to covering the Rams. Lastly, he was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.
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