7:35 p.m. at Staples Center
Hawks +8½ at LA Lakers (213½)
It’s the first game back after the All-Star break so both teams should be focused. Atlanta closed strong prior to the rest period, winning and covering four of the last five games. The Hawks at 31-21 overall own wins over Cleveland and Orlando, while losing to Boston twice by a combined total of 4. One player who could be motivated is All-Star Joe Johnson, who had a bad shooting night in Phoenix, where he once played.
The Lakers are cruising with the best record in the West at 42-10 and recent winners of seven straight games. The streak was snapped at Utah in a 4-point loss prior to the break. LA has persevered without injured center Andrew Bynum, but the last two home games were wins by just 7 against Oklahoma City and 3 over Charlotte. This should be an entertaining game with Atlanta capable of staying within the 8½. HAWKS.