Kobe Bryant, Tony Allen

Kobe Bryant drives against Tony Allen en route to a 21-point performance in the Lakers' 96-92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum last week. (Nikki Boertman / Commercial Appeal / December 17, 2013)

The return of Kobe Bryant from an Achilles injury should be a long-term positive for the Lakers, but the team has struggled since he made his debut in a Dec. 8 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

The team is just 2-4 with Bryant, with wins against the offensively anemic Charlotte Bobcats and Memphis Grizzlies.

While the Lakers' scoring has dipped to 97.2 points per game over the last six, they've given up a sizable 105.5.

On the season, the Lakers have yielded 103.4 points a night, more than every other team -- except the 7-19 Philadelphia 76ers (111.2 per game).

The Indiana Pacers are at the opposite end of the spectrum, giving up just 90 points a contest.

Points allowed may not tell the entire story. Faster-paced teams generate more possessions per game, and the Lakers prefer to play a quicker style.

Point differential adds another element. The Lakers are getting outscored by their opponents to the tune of 3.1 points a game.

Eight teams average a wider margin including the Sixers (9.6), Milwaukee Bucks (8.9), Utah Jazz (8.8), Cleveland Cavaliers (5.5), Brooklyn Nets (4.5), Orlando Magic (4.2), Grizzlies (3.8) and New York Knicks (3.5).

The Lakers should improve on both ends as Bryant finds his legs.  The team could certainly use a point guard with Steve Nash (back), Steve Blake (elbow) and Jordan Farmar (hamstring) all sidelined.

Farmar could return as early as Friday, but only if he's not risking further damage to his hamstring.

At 12-13, the Lakers are just 2 1/2 games behind the seventh-place Denver Nuggets and eighth-place Dallas Mavericks.

ALSO:

Lakers hold on to defeat Memphis Grizzlies, 96-92

Kobe Bryant climbs to fifth all-time in minutes played

Jerry West says Kobe Bryant needs more time, 'going to be fine'

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.