NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, February 17th (All times eastern)
Atlanta Hawks (31-21) at Los Angeles Lakers (42-10), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The NBA's best team hits the hardwood for the first time since the All-Star break on Tuesday as the Los Angeles Lakers welcome the Atlanta Hawks to Staples Center.
The NBA's mid-season classic had quite the Lakers flavor to it as the reunion of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O�Neal under head coach Phil Jackson turned out to be the highlight of the annual affair.
Bryant and O'Neal teamed up Sunday for the first time since Los Angeles lost to Detroit in the 2004 NBA finals, and were selected as co-MVPs after leading the Western Conference to a 146-119 thumping over the East.
The Lakers actually finished the first half of the season on a down note last Wednesday when Mehmet Okur scored 22 points, pulled down eight rebounds and hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 42.8 seconds left, boosting Utah to a 113-109 win over LA in Salt Lake City.
Bryant tallied 37 points for the Lakers, who had a seven-game win streak broken. Lamar Odom had 19 points and a season-high 19 rebounds.
Despite the loss, the Lakers went into the All-Star break at 42-10, tops in the NBA.
The Hawks, meanwhile, entered the break on the upswing by opening a six-game road trip with a 99-95 win over the Detroit Pistons. All-Star Joe Johnson finished with 27 points and Ronald Murray added 23 in that one.
Josh Smith added 10 points, seven assists and seven rebounds for the Hawks, who have won two in a row and four of five overall. The push helped Atlanta improve its record to 31-21 going into the All-Star break, as the Hawks sit in second place in the Southeast Division, 7 1/2 games behind Orlando.
Atlanta, which is 12-15 on the road, will also face Sacramento, Portland, Utah and Denver on its trek.
The Lakers, who are a gaudy 24-4 at Staples Center, have won three of their last four meetings with Atlanta.
02/17 10:48:23 ET