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Lakers will mostly be homebodies for a while

LAKERS FYI

A game against Atlanta opens a period in which they play three of four games and six of nine at Staples Center.

February 13, 2012|By Ben Bolch
  • Hawks guard Joe Johnson (2) is congratulated by teammates Josh Smith (5) and Jeff Teague after scoring against the New Jersey Nets in the second half during an NBA basketball game on Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The Hawks defeated the Nets 105-98. (AP Photo/Erik S. Lesser
Hawks guard Joe Johnson (2) is congratulated by teammates Josh Smith (5)… (Erik S. Lesser / Associated…)

Road life in the NBA isn't exactly a series of connecting flights and Motel 6s.

Players fly charter and stay in posh hotels with marble bathrooms and turndown service.

Still, there's no place the Lakers would rather be than the spot where they always enjoy purple and gold status.

Beginning with a game against Atlanta on Tuesday night, the Lakers will play three of their next four games and six of their next nine at Staples Center, where they are a robust 11-2 as the home team.

They are only 5-10 on the road in the wake of their just-concluded Grammy trip, on which they won three games and lost three.

"It's a step in the right direction to be able to get a couple of road wins, especially the Boston one," Lakers center Andrew Bynum said Monday, referring to an 88-87 victory Thursday. "At home we just have to keep protecting our home court and get a little bit better on the road and our [overall] record will improve a little bit."

Coach Mike Brown said the recent trip taught him that his players are resilient, particularly after back-to-back losses in Utah and Philadelphia. The Lakers responded by winning two of their next three games, including a come-from-behind victory over Toronto on Sunday that Kobe Bryant secured with a fadeaway jumper in the final seconds.

"We never just threw our hands up and said, 'Whatever. Let's just go home or let's just go back to the hotel or let's just get this trip over,' " Brown said. "These guys are pros, these guys are champions and I truly believe we got a little better this trip."

Help wanted?

Bryant repeatedly nodded when asked if he was in favor of Gilbert Arenas' joining the Lakers.

"It surely wouldn't hurt," Bryant said.

Of course, the Lakers star did not hold the opinion that mattered most.

Although General Manager Mitch Kupchak attended a workout involving Arenas on Sunday at a Bel-Air practice court, a person familiar with the organization's thinking but not authorized to discuss it publicly said the Lakers did not have serious interest in signing the three-time All-Star.

Arenas' production dipped dramatically last season in 49 games with Orlando, where he averaged only eight points on 34.4% shooting. Arenas, who has played both point guard and shooting guard, became a free agent in December after Orlando used the amnesty clause to wipe his salary off their ledger for salary-cap and luxury-tax purposes.

Brown said he had not spoken to Kupchak about Arenas but maintained he was open to bringing in any player who could help the Lakers.

Any team that signs Arenas would be saddled with questions about his character. The former Van Nuys Grant High star was suspended for 50 games during the 2009-10 season for bringing guns into the locker room when he played for the Washington Wizards.

"Everybody makes mistakes," Bryant said. "He'll be fine."

What would Arenas bring?

"Hibachi," Bryant said, referring to Arenas' nickname that signified a hot shooting performance.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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