for this game

Lakers rout Hawks in Gasol's home debut

Feb 20, 2008 - 7:44 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Welcoming home their team from a season-long road trip - with a newly acquired star in tow - the Los Angeles Lakers' faithful had a whole lot to cheer about.

The Lakers responded with a lights-out performance.

Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant each scored 23 points to lead the Lakers to their fifth straight victory, 122-93, against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.

"I'm excited and honored to be here and have these fans and my teammates that I have now," Gasol said. "It's a pretty big deal for me."

Lamar Odom chipped in 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who have won eight of their last 10 games.

It had been 20 days and nine contests between home games for Los Angeles, which obtained Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies during the trip on February 5. The trade has already paid dividends with the Lakers improving to 6-1 overall since acquiring their new center.

Gasol entered the game averaging 20.5 points and 8.3 rebounds since joining the Lakers.

Making his debut in Los Angeles, Gasol received a roaring ovation during player introductions and then poured in 17 points in what proved to be the deciding opening half.

"He had a great homecoming," Odom said. "It was his first time playing ball in L.A. for us and he did great. He's always going to get his numbers, he's hard to check. It was great for him."

"I thought it was great, I thought it was awesome, and well deserved," Bryant said of the ovation. "He's been playing extremely well and everybody's happy to have him. I think it was great for him to feel the love here."

Los Angeles went up by double digits in the first quarter and then opened up a 41-point lead after forcing the Hawks into 19 turnovers, which led to 27 points, in the first 24 minutes alone.

"During the first half, I thought we were still in the All-Star break," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said.

Following an Odom layup, Vladimir Radmanovic stole an inbound pass and converted a three-point play as he was fouled by Josh Childress to put the Lakers ahead, 69-28, with 53 seconds remaining before halftime.

The sequence capped a 29-7 run in which the Hawks went scoreless for nearly three minutes at one point during the stretch.

"We keep turning it up defensively," Bryant said. "Once we got a rhythm of what they were trying to do defensively, we got our hands on a couple balls and really disrupted their rhythm and just kept at it."

It wasn't exactly the performance the Hawks were looking for, as they tried to adapt to life with a new key component.

Point guard Mike Bibby made his debut for Atlanta after being acquired from the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. Bibby had five points and three assists but the Hawks' offense sputtered en route to their season-high fifth straight loss.

"I think I will (get the flow)," Bibby said. "It was the first game, second day with the guys, you know. It will come."

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