Losing to one of the league's best teams was a disappointing way for the Atlanta Hawks to open their stretch run. A defeat to one of the worst clubs in the NBA would be a bigger letdown.The Hawks continue their season-high stretch of six straight road games Wednesday night in Sacramento, where they've dropped eight in a row to the Kings.
Atlanta (31-22) won five of seven games entering the All-Star break, and was seeking its third straight victory overall Tuesday night. Instead, the Hawks fell 96-83 to the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers.
The Hawks led by nine points early, but got outscored 40-24 in the third quarter to decide the game.
"We played a quarter and a half and then they hit us in the mouth and they shut us down," coach Mike Woodson said. "Coming out in the third quarter, we were just flat, so flat, to the point where, when they hit us we didn't respond."
Atlanta shot just 36.9 percent from the field, with All-Star Joe Johnson finishing with 14 points and Josh Smith adding 13. Mike Bibby was held to nine points - well below his 15.6 average - all in the first quarter.
Sacramento has traditionally been a difficult place for the Hawks to play. Since a 100-94 victory on Feb. 23, 2000, they've dropped eight straight visits there by an average margin of 16.3 points. They've also dropped 12 of their last 15 overall meetings with the Kings since Feb. 20, 2001.
Atlanta may find beating this season's Kings - owners of a league-worst 11-34 record - to be an easier task. Sacramento dropped five straight games and 13 of 14 entering the break, including a 94-82 loss in Houston last Wednesday night.
Like the Hawks on Tuesday, the Kings were plagued by a poor third quarter, as they were outscored 35-21 to break open what had been a four-point game at halftime.
Leading scorer Kevin Martin finished with 18 points and rookie Jason Thompson added 14 off the bench for Sacramento, which committed eight turnovers during the pivotal third quarter.
"That third quarter was a big blow for us," Kings coach Kenny Natt said. "Our guys were not passing the ball and playing together as a team. We tend to take too many isolation shots and when they are not falling, we get into trouble."
The Kings have yet to disclose the status of recently acquired veteran Sam Cassell. On Tuesday, Boston dealt the 39-year-old guard to the Kings for a conditional second-round draft pick in 2015 and cash considerations, but Sacramento didn't announce whether he would join the team or be released.
Cassell, a 16-year pro with three league championships on his resume, didn't appear in a game this season for the Celtics, who acquired him last March for their NBA title run.