ATLANTA (AP) — DeMarre Carroll shadowed Kobe Bryant from one end of the court to the other, leading Atlanta’s defensive effort that eventually wore down the Lakers and their star.
Carroll’s strong defense and Kyle Korver’s three 3-pointers in Atlanta’s dominant third quarter led the Hawks past Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers 114-100 Monday night.
Bryant, playing in only his fifth game since returning from a torn left Achilles tendon, made only 4 of 14 shots for eight points.
Bryant said his left ankle “felt a little stiff on me.”
“The next level of progression is playing these games when you sit back out, get back in, is keeping it loose,” Bryant said. “It’s just a matter of time. You increase the activity, the ankle gets used to it a little more.
“I’ve just got to keep my eye on the big picture and focus on getting better.”
Bryant and the Lakers faded badly in the second half after leading at 54-47 at halftime.
“That’s why I wanted to pick him up full-court, to get his legs tired,” Carroll said. “His shots were falling short because his legs were tired.”
Al Horford had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead six Atlanta players in double figures. Paul Millsap had 18 points and Jeff Teague had 17 with 10 assists as the Hawks set season highs for points in a game and second half (67).
Carroll had 13 points but took the most pride in his defense on Bryant, who struggled two days after scoring 21 points in a win at Charlotte.
“I love it,” Carroll said, adding his goal is to make the NBA all-defensive team.
“That’s what they brought me here to do, play defense. … Each year I’m trying to make the defensive team because I think I can be one of the lock-down defenders.”
Nick Young led the Lakers with 23 points while making five 3-pointers. Jordan Hill had 21, Xavier Henry had 18 and Pau Gasol had 16, but no other Los Angeles player scored in double figures.
The Lakers were outscored 35-19 in the third period.
“I thought they came out much more aggressive, much more physical, every loose ball, every long rebound,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We just wilted. … We didn’t gut it out tonight.”
Korver scored all of his 11 points in the third period.
“In the third quarter, I thought our aggressiveness and our intensity on the defensive end set the tone for a good second half,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
“Great intensity. Great aggressiveness and I think we played off of our defense. We moved the ball well. We found the open guy. That’s how we want to play.”
The intensity showed on the boards. The Lakers had a 28-17 advantage in rebounds in the first half. The Hawks flipped that advantage by winning the second-half battle 27-15.
“In the second half, on both ends, we really attacked the boards,” Budenholzer said.
Bryant made his third straight start at point guard as the Lakers attempt to compensate for the loss of three injured point guards — Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake.
The Lakers’ other starting guard, Jodie Meeks, made only 1 of 8 shots for 2 points.
Bryant had six assists and five turnovers and appeared to lack his normal energy.
“That’s going to happen,” D’Antoni said. “We have to do a better job of taking the burden off him.”
Korver and the Hawks struggled early. Korver missed two 3-pointers on one possession about 3 minutes into the game and was 0 for 4 on 3s in the half.
Korver made a short-range jumper midway through the third quarter, and that seemed to end his cold shooting. He quickly followed with two 3-pointers, extending his NBA record to 94 consecutive games with at least one 3. He added his third 3 minutes later.
Korver’s string of eight straight points sparked a 17-2 run.
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