LOS ANGELES — Coach Mike Budenholzer handed the keys to the Atlanta Hawks’ offense to Dennis Schroder, and the second-year point guard responded with one of his best performances of the season.
Schroder scored a career-high 24 points and handed out 10 assists, guiding the Hawks to a 91-86 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.
“This shows me that Coach trusts me a lot,” said Schroder, who tied his career best in assists. “He keeps talking to me every day. I think that’s because of my improvement. He trusts me, and I love it. He told me before the beginning of the game, ‘This is your game and just play your game. Don’t change anything.'”
Budenholzer adjusted his starting lineup, resting point guard Jeff Teague and forwards Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll and inserting Schroder and forwards Kent Bazemore and Pero Antic. Shooting guard Kyle Korver started but sustained a broken nose in the second quarter and did not return.
Still, the Hawks (52-14) had enough to contain the Lakers (17-48).
“This was a good win for us,” said center Al Horford, who scored 21 points on 10-of-21 shooting from the field and also had five steals. “I feel like this team really tested us, and our guys on the bench worked hard all year and waited for opportunities. They came out and showed it tonight.”
Reserve guard Shelvin Mack contributed 18 points for Atlanta, which earned its ninth win in 11 games.
It took 42 minutes for reserve forward Ryan Kelly to become the first Los Angeles player to reach double figures. Kelly and forward Carlos Boozer each finished with 13 points to lead the Lakers, who fell for the seventh time in eight games.
Atlanta was in front by 16 points in the fourth quarter before the Lakers rallied. A 13-1 surge pulled Los Angeles within 84-80 after the second of back-to-back buckets by Boozer with 1:03 remaining in the game.
After Horford made one of two foul shots, forward Wesley Johnson hit a 3-pointer to slice the Lakers’ deficit to 85-83 with 30.1 seconds remaining.
Schroder scored on a drive for a four-point advantage with 13.9 seconds left, and that turned out to be the difference.
“We weren’t great executing down the stretch, but I thought Dennis had the big basket late,” Budenholzer said. “Dennis and Al in the two-man game, the pick-and-roll game, was good all night.”
Two free throws by Bazemore, a former Laker who had 13 points and nine rebounds, made it 89-83 with nine seconds remaining.
Kelly’s 3-pointer with 6.9 seconds left cut the gap to 89-86, but two foul shots by Schroder with 5.3 seconds remaining sealed the decision.
“We did a terrible job of moving the ball and setting screens,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “That has been something we’ve had trouble doing all season long … setting screens. We just don’t do a good job of that for some reason.”
The Lakers trailed by as much as 15 late in the first quarter before making a 17-2 run to tie the score at 25 on a jumper by guard Jabari Brown midway through the second quarter.
The Hawks went up 37-30 after a basket by Horford, but the Lakers closed the margin to 41-38 after a runner by point guard Jordan Clarkson ended the half.
By the end of the third quarter, the Hawks increased the margin to 68-58. Eight turnovers to three for the Hawks hurt the Lakers in the third. Overall, Los Angeles committed 22 turnovers to 13 for Atlanta.
Atlanta’s versatility dictated the outcome, Los Angeles forward Ed Davis said.
“They don’t care who scores, they have good balance,” said Davis, who finished with 13 rebounds and seven points. “At one point, they had (four) guys in double figures, so they just don’t care who gets the glory. … They’re one of the better teams in the NBA for a reason.”
NOTES: Lakers G Nick Young will have a CT scan on his troublesome left knee Monday. Young missed his 10th game due to the injury. He was averaging 13.4 points per game before getting hurt. “It’s slow (to heal). They don’t understand why,” said coach Byron Scott, referring to the club’s medical staff. … Atlanta signed F Austin Daye to a 10-day contract, though he didn’t play Sunday. Daye, who played 25 games with the San Antonio Spurs earlier this season, averaged 16 points and seven rebounds for the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League. … The Lakers defeated the Hawks 114-109 on Nov. 18 at Atlanta. … The Hawks resume their six-game road swing Monday at the Sacramento Kings. … The Lakers visit the Golden State Warriors on Monday.
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