ATLANTA (AP) — Not looking the least bit tired after a whirlwind weekend, LeBron James scored 32 points and the Los Angeles Lakers extended their winning streak to seven with a 101-96 victory over the pesky Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night.
The Lakers pulled even with Milwaukee for the NBA’s best record at 24-3.
The Hawks kept it close all the way. Rookie Cam Reddish got a look at a tying 3-pointer from the corner, but the shot clanked off the rim. Danny Green went to the other end and knocked down a pair of free throws to send the Hawks to their fourth straight loss.
After scoring 28 points in a win at Miami on Friday night, James flew to Columbus, Ohio, to watch son Bronny play a high school game Saturday night.
Then, James traveled on to Atlanta to face the struggling Hawks.
If the home team was hoping to get an off night from James, he quickly dispelled that notion with a dazzling first half.
James had the crowd — many of them decked out in his No. 23 jersey — oohing and ahhing with an appropriate 23-point effort.
He turned in three thunderous slams. He knocked down a couple of mid-range jumpers. He ventured out beyond the arc to swish a couple of 3-pointers — including a step-back shot from nearly 5 feet behind the stripe to finish off the first half, sending the Lakers to the locker room with a 55-48 lead.
He also had seven rebounds and blocked a shot, but the play that really had everyone talking was an assist — a no-look, between-the-legs pass that caught Dwight Howard breaking down the lane for a massive dunk.
Rondo also contributed to the “Showtime” performance, finishing off a four-on-one with a dazzling move that looked as though he was about to throw up a lob for James streaking off the wing.
The lone defender, De’Andre Hunter, was left reeling as Rondo hung on to the ball for an uncontested layup. James flew in behind his teammate like he was going for the block, adding some style points to an already impressive play.
James wasn’t done.
In the third quarter, he pulled up just inside the Hawks center-court logo and swished another 3-pointer from 36 feet to give the Lakers a 10-point edge.
Atlanta trailed by as many as 11 but kept the margin in single digits nearly the entire way. Trae Young led the Hawks with 30 points.
Anthony Davis scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Lakers. James also had 13 rebounds, along with seven assists.
Lakers: Davis grabbed at his right ankle when fouled on a lay-up in the closing minutes, but he was able to finish the game. … Rondo was slapped with a technical late in the second quarter for griping about being called for a foul on Young. The Atlanta guard knocked down the technical, then made two more free throws to complete what amounted to a three-point play.
Hawks: Coach Lloyd Pierce picked up a technical in the first half for arguing that a Lakers block should have been called for goaltending. … Kevin Huerter re-injured his left shoulder in the second half and didn’t return. The team described it as a contusion. Huerter already missed 11 games this season after sustaining a left rotator cuff strain.
Lakers: Head to Indiana on Tuesday for the next-to-last game on their five-game Eastern road trip.
Hawks: Travel to New York on Tuesday to face the Knicks in a match-up between two of the worst teams in the East.
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