A 4-1 start to the second half of the season has the Los Angeles Lakers on the verge of .500 basketball Sunday night when they host the Atlanta Hawks at the Staples Center.
Currently at 29-30 and 2.5 games behind Houston for the final playoff spot in the West, the Lakers are fresh off a convincing 116-94 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves Thursday.
Los Angeles shot a blistering 16-for-32 from three-point range, with Kobe Bryant connecting on four three-pointers en route to a game-high 33 points, with five rebounds and five assists.
The Laker bench proved the X-Factor, tallying 46 points, led by guard Jodie Meeks' 16 points and 4-for-9 shooting from downtown and Antawn Jamison’s 17 points and eight rebounds.
Meeks shoots a smooth 43 percent from three in Laker victories.
Point guard Steve Nash struggled with his shot, going 4-for-12 for 12 points, but that could be attributed to back spasms flaring up. The 39-year-old was listed as day-to-day before the Minnesota game, and still is heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Hawks.
Atlanta, now 33-24, has been just as successful as the Lakers in the second half, going 4-2 in their last six, but dropped a disappointing 92-87 loss to the lowly Phoenix Suns.
The Hawks failed to defend the three-point line with Phoenix converting 10 of 22 attempts from beyond the arc, and Phoenix twins Markieff and Marcus Morris came off the bench for a combined 27 points and 11 combined.
Forward Al Horford scored a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Kyle Korver totaled 17 points and eight rebounds with two blocks. Josh Smith shot 2-for-11 for five points and equal number of turnovers.
The game tips-off at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time, and you can watch a live online stream by purchasing NBA League Pass Broadband here.
Betting Odds: Los Angeles is favored by 5.5 points
Over/Under: 207 points
Prediction: The Lakers are on a tear, and while they might fail to contain Horford, Bryant should dominate for second straight game. Look for Nash to play a solid game in an L.A. blowout.
Predicted Score: Los Angeles 100, Atlanta 88
Currently covering NBA, NFL, MLB, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona, focusing on trades, controversy, and injury updates. Joined IB Times in August 2012.