Lakers’ effort in loss to Hawks doesn’t pass smell test


The scent of the game should have been detected a mile away, especially when a team official walked out of the Lakers’ locker room and said it smelled like “dead fish” 90 minutes before tipoff.

That problem was quickly remedied by a deodorizing spray, but there was no on-court solution for the Lakers in one of their worst efforts of the season, an 86-76 loss Sunday afternoon to the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena.

The Lakers hit a season low in points, killed their chances at an undefeated trip, and fell two games behind Cleveland for the league’s best record with nine regular-season games left for both teams.


They shot miserably (35%) and looked fatigued in their 10th consecutive day away from home, falling behind by 16 points in the fourth quarter to a team that might not even make the playoffs if it played in the Western Conference.

It was only the Lakers’ fifth double-digit loss to the Hawks since 1975, but it was one of the few times this season when they never seemed as if they were in it.

Where to begin?

Maybe with Kobe Bryant, who played despite a sprained right ankle and intestinal flu-like symptoms that kept him from attending a video session in the morning. He had 17 points on seven-for-19 shooting, including one for six from three-point range.

“It was one of those nights for us,” he said.

The Lakers’ starting forwards will become fairly popular unrestricted free agents when July rolls around, but on Sunday they were shooting bricks instead of shooting stars: Lamar Odom had nine points on three-for-14 shooting and Trevor Ariza had seven points on three-for-11 shooting.

Derek Fisher made three of 11 shots and the reserves combined to make five of 15.

“There were a lot of guys that I could assess their games in the same category -- they really had a bad night,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.

“You just have spaces in time where things just don’t click together. Everybody hits a night like tonight, and there’s nobody that can pick anybody out of the doldrums that we were in out there.”


Pau Gasol was the only starter to show much of anything, scoring 21 points on seven-for-10 shooting.

Other than that, the Lakers were futile across the board on the way to falling to 4-1 on a seven-game trip, their longest of the season.

Sunday was a case study in the teams that could very well meet in the NBA Finals. Earlier in the day, the Cavaliers rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat Dallas by 28 and win their 12th consecutive game.

The Lakers, on the other hand, trailed the entire second half to a Hawks team that is now 43-31.

Bryant said the Lakers “probably” had a chance to wrest home-court advantage from the Cavaliers but acknowledged that Cleveland would “have to give [up] a couple” of losses.

The Cavaliers have five games left at home, where they are a league-best 35-1, and four on the road. The Lakers also have five at home and four on the road, including Tuesday at Charlotte and Wednesday at Milwaukee to end their 13-day odyssey.


“Who knows what’s going to happen with Cleveland?” Jackson said. “They have to win, and we’re certainly not going to win out, but we’ll continue to put pressure on them.”

The Lakers trailed at halftime Sunday, 40-39, managing to keep the game close only because the Hawks shot 38.3% in the first half.

But longtime Lakers nemesis Mike Bibby, traded from Sacramento to the Hawks last season, scored 12 of his 21 points in the second half, including four-for-five shooting from three-point range.

Said Bryant: “My hat’s off to them for maintaining control of the game.”