Joe Johnson scored 25 points, Jamal Crawford got plenty of help off the Atlanta bench and the Hawks handed Los Angeles its second straight loss, breezing past the Lakers 109-92 Wednesday night.
Kobe Bryant scored 28 points but only eight in the second half as Los Angeles lost back-to-back games for just the fourth time this season. The Lakers won twice on a five-game road trip and missed a chance to possibly clinch the Pacific Division title before heading back home.
The Hawks, who came into the night tied with Boston for the third seed in the Eastern Conference, won their ninth straight at home - their longest such run since a 20-game streak at the old Omni during the 1996-97 season.
Johnson hit five 3-pointers but the bench did the best work. The always-reliable Crawford scored 14 points, Maurice Evans had 18 and the Hawks' reserves outscored the Lakers bench 48-22, also getting a double-double from Zaza Pachulia.
Atlanta went ahead for good on Crawford's 3-pointer with 1:35 left in the first quarter, stretched it out to 55-45 by halftime and was never seriously threatened over the final two quarters, pushing the margin as high as 18 points.
Evans went 7 of 9 from the field, his only two misses coming from outside the arc. Pachulia scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, his first double-double since March 29, 2009, also against the Lakers.
Bryant called it a night with 2 1/2 minutes to go, heading to the bench after a turnover and watching the rest of the game with a towel draped over his shoulders.
The attendance-challenged Hawks drew a full-house-and-then-some crowd of 20,190, a team record since their move to Philips Arena in 1999. Among those sitting courtside were Hall of Famer Julius Erving and Atlanta rapper T.I., who was recently released from a halfway house after serving prison time on a weapons charge.
Things got testy in the fourth quarter.
One minute into the period, Ron Artest stuck an elbow in Maurice Evans' face as he attempted to block out on Atlanta shot. Evans took exception after Artest grabbed the rebound, shoving the volatile Lakers' forward. Evans walked away with Artest in pursuit, but teammates stepped in to keep them apart. Both players drew technical fouls.
About 2 minutes later, Pau Gasol took a pass from Bryant and went in for a dunk, only to get fouled hard by Marvin Williams, who got a piece of the ball but also a good part of Gasol's neck. Williams was called for an intentional foul, Gasol made the free throw, and Jordan Farmar swished a 3-pointer to pull the Lakers within 85-73.
But the Hawks pulled away from there.
NOTES: Laker coach Phil Jackson said F Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) hopes to play Sunday when the Lakers host the Spurs, but added that C Andrew Bynum (Achilles' strain) could be out another 10 days. ... Hawks coach Mike Woodson said he has no complaints about the tie-breaker system that gives the advantage to a team winning its division. Atlanta swept Boston 4-0 in the season series, but the Celtics would get the third seed if the teams end up tied for winning the Atlantic Division. ... Among the other celebrities attending the Lakers' lone appearance in Atlanta: Keri Hilson, who sang the national anthem; rapper Jeezy; and NFL linebacker Takeo Spikes.
© 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.