EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers have won 12 of their past 17 games to creep back to 29-30, a huge improvement since an air-it-out meeting followed by a loss in Memphis caused them to fall eight games under .500, effectively hitting rock bottom.
"I didn't know if I'd ever get them on the same page," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said after practice Saturday. "We just went through a lot of stuff that we didn't get any traction. There were a lot of things that just didn't go well. A lot of it was everybody contributing a little bit to things kind of being kind of screwed up. I think we're getting most of those things worked out."
It has been a gradual, if not glacial, process that the Lakers have gone through since D'Antoni was hired more than 3½ months ago.
"You don't want it, but stuff happens. We just got ourselves into a hole with injuries and me being all over the place early and not knowing what's the thing [to do] and people not accepting roles," D'Antoni said. "Obviously, it was a lot harder than anybody thought, but it can be done, and we're going to try to do it.
"It's just trying to figure out what fits better. Obviously, there was some problems before and just trying to figure out what this team needs to win and, I think we're getting a pretty good formula down."
Things have certainly improved in Laker Land. So are the Lakers finally on the same page?
"Um, yeah, it's a big page," D'Antoni said with a laugh. "It's not a small page. It's kind of in the same book. We're in the same book right now. We're getting closer."
The players are aware of the disconnect that's been there.
"A lot of losses and pretty much the way the season has gone is because of our chemistry," Antawn Jamison said.
"It's just all the time we've played together trying to find an identity, and I think we're still trying to figure it out, but the more we play together the more familiar we are," Steve Nash said.
Kobe Bryant said it's understandable why it took so long to come together.
"I think it's always a process when you have so many new guys coming on the roster and a new coaching staff, and then that gets changed and you have a new system that you're trying to implement and the system doesn't quite match the personnel, so new we have to make that adjustment," Bryant said. "It's just been a constant evolution It's taken awhile, but we've found it, and we're playing a lot better because of it."
And they find themselves with a chance to get back even at .500 with a win against Atlanta on Sunday.
Will it give them a mental lift if they pull it off?
"I'm afraid to think anything," D'Antoni said. "I don't know. I would hope. We've come close before and then stumbled, so we're just going to try to do one game at a time, live in the moment. We know what we got to do and just do it."