LOS ANGELES — Speaking frankly, the Atlanta Hawks were just what the Los Angeles Lakers needed.

After a potentially demoralizing loss to Golden State two days earlier, the Lakers found themselves in 10th in the Western Conference, not where they — or anybody — envisioned them to be languishing with four weeks left in the regular season.

What You Need To Know

  •  The Lakers defeated the Hawks on Monday, 136-105

  •  D'Angelo Russell scored 27 points and made six three-pointers, tying Nick Van Exel for the most single-season threes by a Lakers player

  •  Anthony Davis called Russell’s season-long shooting acumen “phenomenal”

  • Davis returned from an eye injury to collect 22 points and 15 rebounds

But the Hawks were an easy challenge Monday in a 136-105 Lakers victory at Crypto.com Arena. Anthony Davis successfully returned from an eye injury, and D’Angelo Russell continued his smooth-shooting season with a record-tying effort.

Russell scored 27 points and made six three-pointers, tying Nick Van Exel for the most single-season threes by a Lakers player. Van Exel had 183 in the 1994-95 season, a number unmatched until Monday.

“That’s another beautiful feeling, knowing what this organization means to me,” Russell told Spectrum SportsNet.

Russell also holds the record for most threes in a season for the Brooklyn Nets. He drilled 234 in 2018-19, the only time he was an All-Star.

Davis called Russell’s season-long shooting acumen “phenomenal.”

“Obviously he can score at will. He can get hot at any minute,” Davis said. “He’s able to get going, fill up the stat sheet. It’s a big thing for him, big thing for us as a team.”

Lakers coach Darvin Ham said Russell had plenty of leeway to shoot as often as desired as “hands down the best shooter on our team.”

Ham then joked about giving Russell more than just a green light to shoot.

“I want him to be aggressive from the three-point line as much as possible. He has a green room. Not a green light. A green room.”

Davis had 22 points and 15 rebounds two days after leaving the Golden State game two days earlier because he was poked in the eye.

“Just couldn’t see. The corneal abrasion was actually like right in the middle of my eye. It wasn’t like off to the side. So any time I’d look, it was just blurry,” Davis said. “Just felt like sand was in my eye. It was just better closed.”

Davis said the swelling started to recede late Saturday night, and he remained in darkness as long as he could until seeing an eye specialist Sunday morning. Davis said he would not wear goggles in games because he’d “been through that phase in high school.”

He didn’t need goggles Monday, making 10 of 14 shots against Atlanta and sitting out the fourth quarter because the Lakers were so far ahead.

The injury news wasn’t entirely the feel-good type for the Lakers.

Backup big man Christian Wood was scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his ailing left knee Tuesday and expected to miss the rest of the regular season. Wood hadn’t played since Feb. 14 because of swelling in the knee and his absence left the Lakers with a thin frontcourt — only Davis and Jaxson Hayes were capable of playing center for long stretches.

Everything looked fine on Monday. The ball moved quickly and efficiently for the Lakers, as it had many times this season. The Lakers accumulated 39 assists on 52 field goals, an impressive number against any team at any time. Even the hapless Hawks.

“The ball movement, to end up with 39 assists, is huge,” Ham said.

LeBron James had 10 of those assists to go along with 25 points.

Jalen Johnson had 25 points as the Hawks (30-38) fell to 6-6 since All-Star guard Trae Young was sidelined because of a finger injury.


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