The Lakers finally got a win with Kobe Bryant on the floor in Week 7, but the team's woes at point guard continued.
Already down Steve Nash (back) and Jordan Farmar (hamstring), the Lakers lost Steve Blake for at least six weeks to an elbow injury.
Blake played Tuesday with the ligament tear, dishing out 10 assists with nine points, but the Lakers fell to the Phoenix Suns 114-108.
Bryant was hard on himself, but after watching film of his debut last Sunday against the Toronto Raptors, he raised his grade from an 'F' to a 'D'.
Coach Mike D'Antoni blamed the team's defense for the losses by noting, "In the paint, we're awful."
Bryant improved incrementally against the Suns, but Pau Gasol had a difficult time, struggling defensively.
As a team, the Lakers are among the best in three-point field-goal percentage, but their true issue has been on the defensive end.
Losses pushed the Lakers down to 12th place in the Western Conference, with a difficult road trip ahead (and no available true point guards).
Bryant will take over the position, and his first opponent there was All-Star Russell Westbrook.
While D'Antoni said Bryant would start with Westbrook as his defensive assignment, Jodie Meeks initially drew the Thunder guard.
In truth, the Lakers didn't guard Westbrook, Kevin Durant or any other player for that matter, falling 122-97.
D'Antoni noted that he doesn't want to hear complaints from Gasol about the offense, especially when the team isn't playing defense.
The Lakers coach did sympathize with Bryant, playing out of position at the point and fresh off his return from injury.
In a difficult game Saturday, the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers closed well to beat the Charlotte Bobcats, 88-85.
Injuries have led D'Antoni to keep his starting lineup in near-constant flux.
Despite Bryant missing most of the season, he still ranked as the top guard in All-Star balloting, at least by the NBA's initial returns.
Bryant and his family gave a holiday greeting on Instagram, wearing Lakers' purple and gold.
The Lakers star also responded to negative comments made by former NFL star Jim Brown.
Former Lakers forward Lamar Odom pleaded no contest on a DUI charge, receiving three years' probation. Additionally, Odom's wife, Khloe Kardashian, reportedly filed for divorce.
In other odd news, two stolen Lakers championship rings were found. A security guard was charged in the theft.
Recently waived forward Elias Harris reportedly agreed to play for Bamberg in Germany.
Finally, the free agents signed by the Lakers over the off-season are now trade eligible.
Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus. Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun