Sunday evening saw LeBron James fly into Atlanta from Akron, Ohio after watching his son, Bronny, play against his alma mater 24 hours earlier. Not taking part in warm-ups, James wasn’t slowed by the travel. He scored 32 points on the night as the Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks 101-96 in front of a sellout crowd of 16,962. James also had 12 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and one steal in 37 minutes of action to go along with the aforementioned 32 points.

“No; it’s just my approach and joyfulness,” James said when asked about playing with the emotions after watching his son play the night before. Highlights? Sometimes they happen, sometimes they don’t. But, just playing the game with a lot of joy, a lot of fun and a lot of intensity. Tyring to do whatever it takes to help my team win. I was happy I was able to make a few plays tonight to help us win.”

Speaking of playmakers, Atlanta’s Trae Young did not disappoint. He scored 30 points and dished seven assists in addition to pulling down six rebounds in 36 minutes of action. Tonight was the 13th time this season Young scored more than 30 points in a game.

“It was a good fight. LeBron was LeBron tonight,” Young said. “And also, A.D. It’s tough whenever they’re going at a high level. They’re both great players. If they were just half of what they usually are, maybe we’d get the win. But they were just being their best selves tonight.”

Atlanta was able to keep the game close for most of the way. The Hawks outscored the Lakers in fast break points (19-18), second chance points, (8-3) and in bench points (31-18). Cam Reddish led the bench with ten points in 31 minutes off the bench.

“I thought they were locked in,” said Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce. “We use the term ‘appropriate fear’ often. The term I got from (coach) Pop with team USA and I just think when you see who’s on their team and on their roster, you have that appropriate fear so it locks you in a little bit more. You’re afraid to make a mistake, so you do your best to compete. I think they brought out our competitive level tonight. I was really proud of all of our guys, just the way they were competing and battling. Again, all of their shots were tough. We made them take tough shots and that’s really credit to our defense. I’m just happy that our guys competed that way tonight.”

The Lakers outscored the Hawks in the paint 54-34. In addition, the Lakers outrebounded the Hawks 56-42. The suspension of John Collins has had an adverse effect on Atlanta’s physicality down low, but it wasn’t an excuse Pierce wanted to make.

“They’re a big team with Dwight out there crashing,” Pierce explained. “He’s basically roaming around while they’re running their offense. You need the help on Anthony Davis, you need the help on LeBron’s penetration, you need the help on their movement. So, you’re taking your big defender and you’re trying to have Damian (Jones) and Alex (Len) protect the paint and so that’s where their bigs come crashing in for offensive rebounds.”

Atlanta will hit the road and face the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night and will face the Utah Jazz Thursday night at State Farm Arena.

Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks defends LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA game at State Farm Arena on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. Photo by: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...

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