The Atlanta Hawks are just not as good as the Los Angeles Lakers. It's as simple as that.
Kobe Bryant passed Moses Malone for sixth place on the all-time scoring list with 26 points to lead the Lakers to a 101-84 win over the struggling Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night at Philips Arena.
Andrew Bynum had posted 16 points and 16 boards and Pau Gasol added 14 and 11 for Los Angeles, which swept the season set from Atlanta.
"You can't take anything away from the Lakers," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "They're probably one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now. They haven't lost since the All-Star Break."
The Hawks had troubles attacking the inside, so they settled for jump shots with nary an Atlanta player near the bucket. For a while, all was masked as the Hawks were hitting their shots. But over time, the poor shot selection lead to rebounds which lead to easy transition buckets for the defending NBA Champs.
Bryant simply made it look easy. With NBA legend Dr. J looking on and Dominique Wilkins behind the mic, the future Hall of Famer continued his ascension up the ranks of NBA greats, passing Malone with three from the charity stripe on a very charitable phantom foul call late in the second quarter.
Los Angeles took a 57-49 lead into the break, which it quickly extended to over 20 in the third quarter. The Hawks came out flat and the Lakers took advantage.
The Hawks had no answer for Kobe. They had no answer for Bynum and by the end of it, their fans had no answer for all of their Lakers counterparts that invaded Philips Arena in droves. Not only were the purple-and-gold faithful serenading the other team's main guy with "MVP!" chants by the end of it, but they were also on their feet, rooting their Los Angeles team to an eighth straight win.
Those Atlanta fans? They headed for home after another disappointing loss for the home team.
"It felt like a road game to be honest with you, if you listened to the crowd," Drew said. "It won't be the first time and won't be the last. I told this team we had to play it with a road mentality."
Al Horford had 17 points and Josh Smith added 16 for Atlanta, which shot just 40-percent (33-for-83) from the field.
Joe Johnson posted 11 points in the first half, but was held scoreless in the second for a Hawks team that was outscored 44-20 in the paint.