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Lakers topple the Hawks 123-104 to match win total from last season

ATLANTA — To see how far the Lakers have come one only needs to observe the indifference they showed collectively at a note about the significance of Monday's 26th win of the season.

It was Feb. 26. It took the Lakers until April 11 last year to win their 26th game, and that was their last win of the season. Barring a rare and unlikely collapse, the Lakers will have a better record than any Lakers team of the past five years.

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"Doesn't matter," Julius Randle said. "It's just about us improving from game to game and as individuals."

Said Lonzo Ball: "We are just worried about this year. Whatever happened in the past, happened in the past. Now we are trying to win as many games as we can."

On Monday, the Lakers throttled the bottom-dwelling Atlanta Hawks 123-104. Nine Lakers scored in double figures, the first time since 1987 that that had happened for this team, three Lakers notched double doubles (Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope), and Kyle Kuzma was one rebound shy of becoming the fourth.

It was a game of extremes. The Lakers made 15 three pointers — 10 of them in the first half — but they also turned the ball over 23 times, an affliction they had corrected lately. And while the Lakers didn't fixate on the number of wins, it was a mark of progress.

"They found a confidence about themselves, they found a way to play for each other at times," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "And when you do that, you give yourself a good chance to win. Every team in the NBA has talent. It is the teams that are willing to play for another and play hard. I think our guys are starting to find some of that."

In some ways, Monday's game was not an example of the Lakers' best. In addition to committing 23 turnovers, they allowed 34 free throws while they only shot 19, and for a time their free-throw percentage was worse than their three-point percentage.

Granted, they shot from deep well. The Lakers finished with 45.5% of their threes sinking and had made 10-of-18 at halftime.

Ball had a minutes limit of about 25 in his second game back since missing 15 with a sprained medial collateral ligament. Ball made every shot he took. He made three three-pointers out of four field goals. He also made both of his free-throw attempts, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Lakers had a six-point lead after a first quarter during which they turned over the ball seven times. They led by 18 at halftime, but the message from Walton was still about the sloppy play. He expected better from his team.

"I was really upset with the way that we were playing," Walton said. "They kind of came out in the second half and started being aggressive, making shots. Brandon put us on his shoulders and got that lead back to where he was comfortable. He started cramping up so if the game got close he was good to go back in. We were able to keep a pretty good distance on them."

Brandon Ingram scored 15 points in the third quarter, once scoring three consecutive baskets to keep the Hawks at a safe distance. He didn't play at all in the fourth quarter.

"The camaraderie we have this year from last year was a lot better," said Ingram, who is in his second NBA season. "I think guys came in and we worked extra hard, whether it was individually, whether it was as a team, we just thought we could figure it out sooner or later."

There aren't many players in the Lakers locker room now who started the season with them last year. Ingram, Randle, Ivica Zubac and Luol Deng are the only players who remain.

Randle, especially, has seen the Lakers' darkest days. The Lakers won a franchise-low 17 games in Randle's first full season, then won 26 last year, though five of those wins came in garbage time of the season during a five-game winning streak in mid-April.

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He sees what's different about this team.

"It's just all very unselfish," Randle said. "It's all about winning. You can feel the chemistry out there. It's not from game to game different. We consistently have the right chemistry that we need to grow and build."

That's why even during the darkest days of this season, during that nine-game losing streak, the players who had been through this before believed.

In some ways, Monday's game was not an example of the Lakers best. In addition to committing 23 turnovers, they allowed 34 free throws while they only shot 19, and for a time their free throw percentage was worse than their three-point percentage.

Granted, they shot from deep well. The Lakers finished with 45.5% of their threes sinking and had made 10-of-18 at halftime.

Lonzo Ball had a minutes limit of about 25 in his second game back since missing 15 with a sprained MCL. Ball made every shot he took. He made three three-pointers out of four field goals. He also made both of his free throw attempts, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Lakers had a six-point lead after a first quarter during which they turned over the ball seven times. They led by 18 at halftime, but the message from Walton was still about the sloppy play. He expected better from his team.

"I was really upset with the way that we were playing," Walton said. "They kind of came out in the second half and started being aggressive, making shots. Brandon put us on his shoulders and got that lead back to where he was comfortable. He started cramping up so if the game got close he was good to go back in. We were able to keep a pretty good distance on them."

Ingram scored 15 points in the third quarter, once scoring three consecutive baskets to keep the Hawks at a safe distance. He didn't play at all in the fourth quarter.

"The camaraderie we have this year from last year was a lot better," said Brandon Ingram, who is in his second NBA season. "I think guys came in and we worked extra hard, whether it was individually, whether it was as a team we just thought we could figure it out sooner or later."

There aren't many players in the Lakers' locker room now who started the season with them last year. Ingram, Randle, Ivica Zubac and Luol Deng are the only players who remain. Randle, especially, has seen the Lakers' darkest days. The Lakers won a franchise low 17 games in Randle's first full season, then won 26 last year, though five of those wins came in garbage time of the season during a five-game winning streak in mid-April.

He sees what's different about this team.

"It's just all very unselfish," Randle said. "It's all about winning. You can feel the chemistry out there. It's not from game to game different. We consistently have the right chemistry that we need to grow and build."

That's why even during the darkest days of this season, during that nine-game losing streak, the players who had been through this before believed.

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Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli

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