Highlight Factory + Lake Show = Great NBA Action

Tuesday, March 30, 2010
By Jon Newberry

The Hawks host the Lakers tomorrow night in what should be a packed house at the Highlight Factory. Over the past decade the crowd would have been flooded with Kobe Bryant jerseys, but the ratio has dwindled recently as more Atlantans have been proud to show their Hawks colors during one of the season’s most anticipated games.

The Hawks have split the series with the Lakers the past two seasons, with each team successfully defending home court. In fact, they have split the series eight of the past nine seasons, which is surprising when you compare overall records during that same span. No doubt, Kobe Bryant remains one of the biggest, if not the biggest, stars in the NBA. He has averaged 22.4 ppg against Atlanta during his career, but has struggled shooting in his last two trips into town. Last year he scored 17 points on 7-of-19 shooting (only 1-of-6 from 3-pt range) which was an improvement on his 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting from a the 2007-08. The Hawks won both contests.

Kobe did have 41 points earlier this season, when the Lakers beat the Hawks 118-110 at STAPLES Center. The game was not as close as the final score indicated as L.A. led by 22 points after three periods. Still, it was the third game of the season and the Hawks were still figuring out their roles (especially the new dynamic of Jamal Crawford as the 6th Man).

Wednesday is also the final Hawks game against Western Conference opponents this season. They are 12-2 against the West at home and their 2o wins overall is the most since 1996-97 when they finished 22-6.