The Hawks were definitely in playoff mode Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Hawks, who came into the night tied with Boston for the third seed in the Eastern Conference, won their ninth straight at home – their longest such run since a 20-game streak at the old Omni during the 1996-97 season.
Kobe Bryant scored 28 points but only eight in the second half as Los Angeles lost back-to-back games for just the fourth time this season. The Lakers won twice on a five-game road trip and missed a chance to possibly clinch the Pacific Division title before heading back home.
“We’re not playing well defensively,” Bryant said. “This trip was consistently bad, so we’ve got to get back to work.”
Bryant called it a night with 2 1/2 minutes to go, heading to the bench after a turnover and watching the rest of the game with a towel draped over his shoulders. Pau Gasol scored 16 points and Artest had 15, but Jordan Farmar (16 points) made the only significant contribution off the bench.
“It’s hard to digest,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “Everybody got going on their team, basically, at some point.”