Skidding Hawks return home to face hot Lakers

ATLANTA — After losing three straight on the road, the Atlanta Hawks finally get a chance to return home on Monday. But their opponent is the Los Angeles Lakers, a young team tha has gotten hot in the last month.

The Hawks (18-42) will host the Lakers (25-34) for the only time this season at Philips Arena. They will be trying to split the season series after Los Angeles won 132-113 on Jan. 7 at the Staples Center.

The game will be a homecoming for Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who played at the University of Georgia.

Pope is coming off his best performance of the year, a season-high 34-point effort that included a career-high eight 3-point baskets in a 113-108 win over the Sacramento Kings. He became the eighth Lakers player to hit eight or more treys in a game and just the fourth on the road.

Caldwell-Pope has scored in double figures in 39 games and had nine 20-plus point performances. He has led the team in scoring six times. Against the Kings, he was 12 of 20 from the field and 8 of 14 on 3-pointers.

“When you get a guy hot who can shoot like him, you try to use him,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “Sometimes as a decoy, sometimes as a back-screener because you know guys aren’t going to want to leave him.”

The 6-foot-5 guard is averaging 13.5 points, five rebounds and 2.2 assists in 33 minutes per game.

“He was playing really well and then he got hurt,” Walton said. “He had to find his rhythm again. Keeping him on the court and allowing him to play has allowed him to find that rhythm. Credit to him because he’s been putting in the work.”

Atlanta has lost three straight games — all on the road — and dropped five of their last six. The Hawks are currently last in the Eastern Conference.

“We just want to go out there and compete,” Atlanta guard Kent Bazemore said. “We didn’t do that (against Indiana).”

Atlanta never led in Friday’s 116-93 loss to Indiana. The Hawks had 13 turnovers in the first half, which led to 18 points for the Pacers, who had a 17-point advantage at halftime. Atlanta had 22 turnovers for the game.

The bright spot was Isaiah Taylor, who scored a career-high 17 points and added six assists and two steals.

The Hawks may be without veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova. The club is working on a buyout, which would allow him to re-sign with the Philadelphia 76ers. Ilyasova is averaging 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds and is best known for his defensive ability and his skills with shooting the 3-pointer.

Los Angeles has won two straight games and six of their last nine. The spurt has pulled the Lakers into 11th place in the Western Conference, but still a distant eight games out of a spot in the playoffs.

The Hawks were without DeAndre Bembry, Tyler Cavanaugh, Antonius Cleveland, Malcolm Delaney on Friday. The Lakers are without Channing Frye (appendectomy), and Lonzo Ball continues to deal with a sore knee.

The Lakers have won the last three games in the series.