The Lakers improved to 2-9 with a nice balance of offense and improved defense that provided a 17-point lead in the second quarter. Here are five takeaways from their 114-109 victory Tuesday in Atlanta.
1) Kobe Bryant has already scored 44 and 39 points in games this season, but it was his 28-point effort that got the Lakers their best victory so far. He was efficient (10 for 18), made a point of looking for teammates and also added a “wow” moment, his 20-foot fadeaway that became a three-point play after he was fouled with 1:11 to play. Bryant couldn’t help it -- he slapped five with a courtside fan after making the shot.
2) Key play: Bryant backed down Thabo Sefolosha in the post and appeared to prepare a one-on-one move in the final minute. Instead, he passed the ball to Nick Young in the opposite corner. Young was fouled by Kyle Korver and made only one of three free throws, but here’s the point: Bryant passed the ball in crunch time. Critics were quieted.
3) How important was the victory, the Lakers’ first on the road in five tries? Players were jubilant in the locker room before the media was allowed to enter. “It’s like we clinched a playoff spot,” said one observer.
4) If Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer did this every night, the Lakers would be substantially better. They combined for 35 points on 16-for-21 shooting. Boozer had 10 rebounds, Lin had 10 assists. Good symmetry. Good effort.
5) Bryant on the Lakers’ struggles so far: “It’s been tough but you find beauty in the process.”