By George Henry
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ATLANTA _ Al Horford scored 16 points, Paul Millsap and Kent Bazemore each added 15 and the Hawks beat the Los Angeles Lakers 100-87 Friday night to spoil Kobe Bryant’s last game in Atlanta.
In the third game since announcing his retirement plans earlier this week, Bryant scored 14 points on 4-for-19 shooting. Lou Williams topped the struggling Lakers, who never led, with 18 points.
Bryant showed a few flashes of his once-dominant skills, holding up three fingers on each hand after hitting consecutive 3-pointers to bring the loudest cheers of the night from the capacity Philips Arena crowd midway through the third.
The second basket cut the lead to seven, and the Lakers pulled within four with 5:59 left in the game when Bryant assisted on Williams’ 3.
After the game ended, Bryant walked to midcourt to give a smile and a hug to Kyle Korver, a 13th-year veteran, in an exchange of mutual admiration.
The game’s outcome was hardly unexpected given Bryant’s age and the state of his underperforming team, but Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer still showed respect by putting his best defender, Thabo Sefolosha, on the 17-time All-Star.
Bryant struggled much of the night to get separation on the perimeter, but his pull-up jumper in the lane over Sefolosha cut the lead to 87-83 with 4:46 to go.
He showed his age on the next sequence as Sefolosha blocked a shot out of bounds and was defending the arc when Bryant tossed up an air ball from the right side.
D’Angelo Russell had 16 points and 10 assists for the Lakers, who dropped to 3-16, worst in the Western Conference and second-worst overall.
Mike Scott scored 14 points and Jeff Teague added 13 for Atlanta, which improved to 13-9 and has the next five days off.
SHOW OF RESPECT
The Hawks showed a brief video tribute of Bryant before start of the second quarter. The five-time NBA champion smiled and waved to the capacity crowd, but did not watch the one-minute segment. Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins said, “I’ll see you in the Hall” during the tribute.
SURPRISE FOR SCOTT
Lakers coach Byron Scott said before the game that Bryant first told him of retirement plans before the start of the third quarter last Saturday at Portland. Scott didn’t exactly have an easy time blocking out the news with his team on the court in the second half.
“It was probably the weirdest game I’ve ever coached,” Scott said.
Lakers: Williams, a former Hawk who grew up in the Atlanta suburbs, drew plenty of cheers through the night.
Hawks: Teague handed out five assists to pass Wilkins on the franchise career list. … Atlanta finished with 24 assists, one less than their season average that ranks second in the NBA.
Lakers: Visit Detroit on Sunday.
Hawks: Visit Denver on Wednesday.