Daily Confidential

While Kobe Bryant is productive when he's not 100 percent, the Los Angeles Lakers would like to have their star completely healthy as they try to bounce back from a loss.

The Lakers (12-6) continue a four-game homestand when they take on the Atlanta Hawks (8-9) on Friday night.

Bryant sprained his right ankle in Monday's 101-87 win over Indiana when he landed awkwardly on the foot of Pacers center Jeff Foster. He was forced to leave in the third quarter, and it was questionable whether he could play Wednesday against New Orleans.

Bryant started that game and scored 24 points, but he was clearly limited and Los Angeles fell 105-89 to the Hornets to end a three-game winning streak.

``It's sore right now,'' said Bryant, who estimated his ankle at 50 percent. ``I couldn't run like I normally do, explode and get to the basket.''

Los Angeles, which lost for only the third time in 13 home games, didn't have anybody step up to help out Bryant. Lamar Odom scored 20 points but also committed seven of the Lakers' 17 turnovers.

``I played bad throughout the game. I'm not surprised by it at all,'' said Odom, who was bothered by a head cold. ``We took it on the chin. That's the beauty of the NBA. Everybody is good enough to win one game and they did.''

Los Angeles, first in the Pacific Division, finishes its homestand Sunday against San Antonio.

The Hawks improved to 2-1 on their five-game road trip with a 98-96 victory over Denver on Wednesday. Atlanta rallied from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit, scoring 37 points in the final period.

``This was huge win from a group that doesn't quit and competes from beginning to end,'' Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. ``We were down huge in the fourth quarter, and we just kept chipping away and kept making play after play after play to get the win.''

The Hawks had lost seven of nine prior to the trip after starting the season 4-1.

Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 27 points and seven rebounds against the Nuggets, and rookie Shelden Williams made two free throws with five seconds left to provide the winning margin.

``I had been in that situation a lot of times in my (college) career at Duke,'' Williams said. ``I just looked at it as two free throws, and not that it was going to win the game. That worked for me.''

Despite Atlanta's poor record this decade, it has played the Lakers surprisingly well. The teams have split their series the last six seasons and the Hawks are 3-3 on the road against the Lakers since the start of the 2000-01 season, including a 114-110 victory Feb. 15. Johnson had 20 points and a then-career high 15 assists in that game.

Bryant averaged 38 points in two games against the Hawks in 2005-06 and is averaging 22.7 points in 14 career games against Atlanta.

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