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Bet on the NBAAfter his strong showing in the NBA All-Star Game, Kobe Bryant is looking ahead to the rest of the basketball season, starting with the game against the visiting Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks will take on the LA Lakers at the Staples Center Tuesday night, and will give the LA team their first chance to recover from an embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers before the All-Star break.

Kobe was named the All-Star Game MVP after putting up 37 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. He lead the Western Conference team to a 148-143 victory over the East. Bryant also received the loudest, most sustained applause from the crowd during the pregame introductions, but what else could you expect from Kobe's hometown fans? This will probably be Bryant's last All-Star Game played in Los Angeles.

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Coming into the All-Star break, the Lakers had been struggling, despite being at the top of the Pacific Division. In the game against the Cavs, Bryant had difficulty connecting on his shots, going 8 of 24 from the field. Pau Gasol stepped up his game, posting 30 points and 20 rebounds, but it was not enough to fend off the NBA-worst Cavaliers, who won 104-99.

Atlanta also came to the All-Star break struggling a bit. They were beaten by the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden 102-90. This was the Hawks' third loss in their last four games, despite all five of their starters scoring in the double-digit range. But New York's offense easily dismantled Atlanta's defensive game and came away with a comfortable win.

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Coming into the Hawks-Lakers game, the two teams have split their season series in the past three years. The home team usually has the advantage in this matchup, and this year will most likely be more of the same. Going into the second half of the NBA season, will the Lakers regain some of their past glory or will the be eclipsed by some of the younger, fresher teams?


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