Trae Young, others set to return for Hawks vs. Lakers

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Two days after delivering a solid road victory, the Atlanta Hawks could be in position to return firepower galore when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

The Hawks earned a 108-102 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday behind 25 points from Kevin Huerter. Five of those points came in the final 38 seconds to seal the victory, and he added 11 rebounds for good measure.

The Hawks leaned heavily on Huerter with Trae Young sitting out the game with a bruised lower back. Young is expected to return against the Lakers well rested from his 56-point performance against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.

The Hawks were also without John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Jalen Johnson, who just cleared COVID-19 protocol and are joining the team in Los Angeles. Head coach Nate McMillan remains in COVID-19 protocol.

The Hawks will enter 2-2 on their six-game road trip that concludes in Los Angeles with Friday’s game and a Sunday meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers.

It is the first time the Hawks have won twice in a three-game stretch since Dec. 1. That came at the tail end of a run when they put together a seven-game winning streak and won eight of nine games.

“(Defense) is something we talked about a lot over the past couple days, obviously, something we’ve worked at a lot in practice, just going over the basics, fundamentals, talking about our effort level and it was for sure a step in the right direction,” Huerter said after the victory over the Kings.

The Lakers also defeated the Kings this week, earning a 122-114 victory at home over Sacramento on Tuesday, leaving them well rested for Friday’s game. The Lakers are on a three-game winning streak and have won four of their last five.

With Anthony Davis out since a knee injury at Minnesota on Dec. 17, LeBron James has shouldered the scoring load. He has averaged 34.3 points over the past nine games, including a season-best 43-point effort against the Trail Blazers last Friday.

“I missed a lot of really good looks early on, and teammates kept just telling me, ‘Just bring us home,'” James said.

Indeed he did. James scored 10 of the Lakers’ final 21 points in the victory. And after Russell Westbrook had nine turnovers in a victory Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, he had none against the Kings in 34 minutes.

Los Angeles had just five turnovers total against the Kings. Can they turn themselves into a single-digit turnover team the rest of the way?

“I don’t know if that’s realistic, but it shows that when we put our mind to it we can do it as a team,” Westbrook said.

Westbrook’s first season with the Lakers has been erratic. He has averaged 19.5 points with 8.1 rebounds and 8.1 assists, while shooting 45.2 percent from the field. But over his last six games, while the Lakers have gone 4-2, he has averaged 17.8 points while shooting 40.8 percent, including 22.2 percent from 3-point range.

–Field Level Media

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