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Lakers Vs. Hawks: It's The Joe Johnson-Kobe Bryant Show Again

Joe Johnson stole the ball from Kobe Bryant and blazed down the floor, besting the Los Angeles Lakers superstar for a bucket in Sunday's All-Star Game at the Staples Center.

The All-Star Game MVP will get a chance to exact some revenge when his Lakers take on Johnson's Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night at the site of the crime.

The Hawks continue their seven-game road trip and open the second half of the season in Los Angeles (10:30 p.m., SportSouth, 97.9 FM). Expect some star power, a lot of obnoxious front-running Lakers fans, a bunch of hot cheerleaders and a whole lot of Kobe in what should be an entertaining game in La-La land.

Bryant had one heck of a monster game in the 60th annual All-Star Game, posting 37 points and grabbing 14 boards in the contest en route to tying former Hawks legend Bob Pettit by notching his fourth All-Star Game MVP award. But most of that scoring came against Dwyane Wade.

When Johnson was given the assignment of guarding Kobe after Wade left with an ankle injury midway through the third quarter -- it was a whole different ballgame. The Atlanta guard -- with the help from an occasional double-team -- held Bryant to just three points in the fourth quarter. Kobe's dreams of besting Wilt Chamberlain's record of 42 points in the annual contest that pits East vs. West was history.

Kobe rarely forgets something like that.

And his Lakers are also likely not going to forget how embarrassed they were the last three times they took the court. After dropping a 14-point decision to the Orlando Magic last Sunday, the Lakers lost to the lowly Charlotte Bobcats by 20 and suffered an embarrassing 104-99 defeat to the even lowlier Cleveland Cavaliers as they stumbled into the break.

There's some panic in Los Angeles, even though the Lakers  have a 9-1/2 game lead in the Pacific Division.

As far as the Hawks go, they were in a bit of a slide before the break as well. Atlanta has lost three of its last four, including a terrible 102-90 setback against the New York Knicks -- in the pre-Carmelo Anthony era no less!

Johnson had 11 points in the All-Star Game, while Al Horford helped Team Atlanta to a Shootout title and posted a pair of points in the big exhibition game.

Horford, who missed time before the break with a bruised back, had 12 points and 11 rebounds in Atlanta's last game that counted against the Knickerbockers.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.