ATLANTA — No point guards, no semblance of offense, no defense.
And, of course, no victory.
The Lakers were dominating down low, and how rare has that been this season?
But then the next 24 minutes took place. Gasol had three shots. So did Hill. The Lakers had no chance.
Kobe Bryant looked worn out by traps and full-court pressure while trying to play point guard. He had eight points on four-for-14 shooting, six assists and five turnovers in 32 minutes.
Five games into his return from a torn Achilles' tendon, Bryant continues to avoid panicking even though the Lakers (11-13) are in an awkward limbo, neither hanging with the top eight Western Conference teams nor sliding toward the helpless lottery-bound ones.
“Last year was really, really dire straits. It doesn't feel like it's that type of situation here,” Bryant said. “I don't really sweat it too much. There's certain things that we can correct and fix. A lot of it starts with me and getting healthy, and I'll get there. Then I'll be able to control things a lot more.”
Bryant said his left foot and ankle tightened while he was on the bench Monday.
“I think that's the next level of progression — when you sit out and you get back in, keeping it loose,” he said. “There are certain things I feel I can do and other things I can't really do yet but I feel like they're coming. It's just having the patience.”
He also said he wanted to “turn the corner” better and get back some more burst.
Help might be on the way soon, at least in getting Bryant back to his regular position.
Jordan Farmar will play Friday against Minnesota if he gets cleared by a doctor Wednesday and makes it through Thursday's practice. He'd likely join Bryant in the starting lineup if his hamstring cooperates.
“It's kind of by default,” Farmar said. “There's no other point guards.”
“I think they're going to have to repaint the right side of the floor because we never got to the other side,” Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said jokingly. “We'll probably have to pay for damages.”
Gasol finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Hill made all eight of his shots and had 21 points with nine rebounds.
“We just didn't create any movement, any motion, any energy,” said Gasol, who shot seven for nine. “If we can play inside-out, that's always a positive, I think.”
If the victories don't start coalescing soon, the Lakers could become active before the Feb. 20 trade deadline.
“One of the positives and the things that I love about this franchise obviously has a downside,” Gasol said. “When things are not working out . . . the pot gets a little stirred and things could happen. We have to focus on our job and playing and trying to get wins so things don't get messy.”