Short-handed Hawks holdoff Bryant, Lakers
Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford (15) scores against Los Angeles Lakers forward Antawn Jamison (4) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Atlanta on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. AP/John Bazemore
ATLANTA — Devin Harris scored 17 points, Ivan Johnson hit a key basket and the shorthanded Atlanta Hawks shook off a 20-point third quarter by Kobe Bryant, snapping a three-game losing streak with a 96-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.
Bryant finished with 31 points, but made just 11 of 33 shots. He drove the baseline with a chance to force overtime but watched his jumper slide off the rim with 3 seconds remaining. Making matters worse, he landed on Dahntay Jones’ foot and twisted his left ankle, crumpling to the court in pain.
Bryant hobbled off and seemed OK before Kyle Korver knocked down two free throws to clinch it.
Atlanta won for just the second time in eight games despite missing Josh Smith and Jeff Teague.
The Hawks got contributions all around. Harris scored nine straight points in the fourth quarter to help the Hawks regain the upper hand after the Lakers went up 80-76. But the biggest basket was made by Johnson with the Hawks clinging to a three-point lead.
Al Horford drove along the baseline and missed the shot. But he hustled for the rebound and knocked it right to Johnson under the basket. He flipped in a reverse layup with 33.3 seconds remaining, pushing the Hawks ahead 92-87.
After the Lakers called a timeout, Horford gave Johnson a big hug on the way to the bench. Smith, in street clothes, mockingly threw punches at the burly forward.
But the Lakers had a chance. John Jenkins and Korver both missed free throws, and Bryant knocked down a turnaround 3-pointer off an inbound pass with Jones right in his face.
That turned out to be their last hurrah. Atlanta snapped the Lakers’ four-game winning streak and handed them just their third loss in the last 12 games, at least slowing their bid to rally for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Led by Harris, six players scored in double figures for Atlanta. Korver had 15, Horford 14, Johnson and Jenkins 12 apiece, and Johan Petro 10.
After scoring just three points in the first half, Bryant was unstoppable in the third. He made eight shots and almost single-handedly wiped out Atlanta’s 55-43 halftime lead.
Without Smith and Teague, Atlanta sent out a patchwork lineup that left some in the crowd with puzzled looks during the introductions: Harris and Jones in the backcourt, Anthony Tolliver and Horford at the forward spots, and Petro at center.
But the Hawks came out with an inspired first half, getting contributions from both the starters and the reserves. Horford, Harris and Petro all scored eight points, while Horford and Petro grabbed eight rebounds apiece. Jenkins chipped in with eight points off the bench, while Korver added seven, Johnson six and even Shelvin Mack – on a 10-day contract – scored four points.
Bryant, meanwhile, made only 1-of-8 from the field.
Notes: Korver extended his franchise record to 57 consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer. He took care of the streak with 3:10 left in the first quarter. … Teague didn’t even attempt to suit up. Smith went out for pregame warmups to test his knee, but found it too sore to play. … Jones made his second start since being acquired by the Hawks at the trade deadline. … Horford picked up a technical late in the third when he complained about not getting a call on a drive into the lane, when he appeared to get whacked on top of the head by Dwight Howard. Then, early in the fourth, Hawks coach Larry Drew received a T after another no-call on Howard, this time when he appeared to throw his body into Johnson, sending him tumbling to the court. … The teams split their season series, 1-1.
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