By Kevin R. Linares
The Los Angeles Lakers have reached the .500 mark after defeating the Atlanta Hawks 98-99 at the Staples Center. Kobe Bryant continues to show no signs of slowing down in his 17th NBA season with another 30 point game and having a highlight dunk over Atlanta Hawk’s Josh Smith. The Lakers did not take this game easy after blowing a 16-point lead in the second half, which ended with Steve Blake stealing a pass in the final seconds allowing L.A. to win at home by one point.
Bryant and Nash led the team with 34 points for the “Black Mamba” and 15 points with 10 assists for the Canadian. Howard, who was up against his childhood friend in Josh Smith, added 11 points and led the way with 15 rebounds. A good sign for the Lakers franchise and fans was Smith telling reporters that he believed Dwight would remain in the Lakers purple and gold, who will also join the all star center in the upcoming free agency.
The Lakers did not catch a break in the standings however with the Houston Rockets easily defeating the Dallas Mavericks. Los Angeles continues to trail the Rockets for the final playoff spot remained 2.5 game behind. Games the Lakers will be keeping an eye on are the Utah Jazz visiting the Milwaukee Bucks and the Raptors playing at Golden State.
Up next for L.A. is an away game at one of the toughest buildings to play at in Oklahoma City. The Thunder just came out with an impressive win playing the Clippers on Sunday. Oklahoma looks determined to take over the Western Conference top spot now with the injury to the San Antonio point guard Tony Parker. The Lakers will try to continue their fight to the playoffs and can show they mean business with a statement win over the 2nd place Thunder.