The idiosyncrasies of these Lakers keep spilling onto the court, one at a time, some good and some not so good.
Sometimes they hit a lot of threes and build nice, big leads. But then those leads dissipate amid a bewildered Staples Center crowd.
One other reality of a season in its infancy: Kobe Bryant isn't around, but the Lakers can hang in there as long as Pau Gasol is out there, the latest verification a 105-103 victory Sunday over the Atlanta Hawks.
Gasol didn't shoot well and was on the bench for a curiously long time in the second half, but he made the go-ahead free throws with six seconds to play and blocked Kyle Korver's long two-point attempt with 2.9 seconds left.
It let everybody forget that the Lakers lost a 21-point lead. Hey, they're 2-2 now, which, actually, symbolizes neither prowess nor patchiness.
Gasol has pledged to hold things in place while Bryant recovers from a torn Achilles' tendon. He tried to do his part Sunday.
He had 16 points, 13 rebounds and a robust third-quarter dunk over Paul Millsap and Cartier Martin after faking Al Horford out of the way.
After a long, long wait on the bench from 6:29 of the third quarter until 5:40 of the fourth, Gasol missed four shots down the stretch. Not strong.
But then he made two free throws after Millsap was called for a blocking foul that needed to be confirmed by referees after a lengthy replay review on the courtside TV.
Maybe long enough to ice Gasol by the time he got to the line? Nah.
"I had to make up for so many other shots that I missed tonight," said Gasol, who was five for 18.
He wasn't done atoning.
Korver made six of six three-point attempts before Gasol touched just enough of his shot a step or two in front of the arc.
"It was a great little reaction by Pau to get out there and pressure him," said Steve Nash, who proved his body hadn't completely fallen apart by accruing 13 points and six assists.
Gasol was held out for so long in the second half because he was fighting a respiratory ailment, Coach Mike D'Antoni said.
The Lakers hadn't lost at home to Atlanta since 2006, and Jordan Hill was part of keeping it that way.
He had six points and five rebounds in 14 minutes, his latest personal petition to get more playing time. He had a big offensive rebound after Gasol missed a hook shot with 19.9 seconds left. A minute before that, Gasol was short on a fadeaway but Hill grabbed the rebound and made two free throws after being fouled.
Maybe that's D'Antoni's next lineup move, inserting Hill into the starting five in place of Shawne Williams at power forward.
D'Antoni did make a change Sunday, starting Xavier Henry instead of Nick Young. It worked for both of them.
Henry had a team-high 18 points in his third start in the last three seasons. Young scored 13 points on five-for-nine shooting and also had four assists.
The Lakers built their big lead mainly by making seven of their first 10 three-point attempts. All five starters made one, including Gasol, now three for six behind the arc this season.
Korver jump-started Atlanta's comeback with three three-pointers in the third quarter and finished with 22 points on eight-for-10 shooting for the Hawks (1-2).
The script started to feel a little too familiar. The Lakers lost a 15-point lead Friday in a 91-85 loss to San Antonio.
"We've got a lot of stuff we've got to cure," D'Antoni said. "We start to get soft on defense without a lot of energy and then we start to get a little selfish without thinking about moving the ball."
A lot of stuff to cure, indeed. Most teams with .500 records are like that.
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