LOS ANGELES -- When the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Hawks in Atlanta on Nov. 18 earlier this season, not much was made of it. Buoyed by 28 points from Kobe Bryant and 17 off the bench from Nick Young, the Lakers earned their second overall win while the Hawks dropped to 5-5.
From that point on, their paths diverged. The Lakers continued to slide, losing 38 more games heading into Sunday's rematch at Staples Center. But the Hawks? They caught fire and have lost just nine times -- yes, just nine times -- since that home loss to the Lakers.
Given how everything has turned out, one wonders how in the heck these Lakers beat those Hawks. But, in fairness, those Hawks hadn't fully formed into the version they are now -- the same version that paid back the Lakers with a 91-86 win on Sunday even though they sat three starters, Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap and were without another starter, Kyle Korver (broken nose), for most of the game.
The Lakers lost for the seventh time in their past eight games, falling to 17-48. The Hawks improved to 52-14.
Turning point: The Hawks led by as many as 16, but the Lakers cut their lead to single digits entering the final minute. Ryan Kelly hit a 3-pointer with 6.9 seconds left to pull the Lakers to within three, but the Hawks were able to hit their free throws to hold on from there.
Player of the game: Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder set a career high in points (24) and tied a career high in assists (10) starting in place of Teague.
Top Laker: A really balanced box score made this a difficult decision, but rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson continues to play well. He posted 10 points, six assists and a career-high eight rebounds. He didn't shoot that well, hitting just 4-of-13 from the field, but his all-around game wasn't bad.
Stat of the night: The Lakers entered the game averaging 12.9 turnovers per game, the fifth lowest in the league, but they had 22 turnovers that the Hawks cashed in for 28 points.
Second stat of the game: A Lakers player didn't break the double-digit-scoring mark until 5:13 remained in the fourth quarter. That player was Kelly, who scored 13, tied for a team high with forward Carlos Boozer.
Third stat of the game: The Lakers held a 21-1 edge in second-chance points in part because they outrebounded the Hawks 54-34.
Up next: The Lakers will fly north Monday for the second leg of a back-to-back against the West-leading Golden State Warriors (7:30 p.m., ESPN).