So this is what it looks like at .500 or above.

It's been a while since the Lakers could ponder life from this vantage point - Dec. 28 to be exact - and while getting back has proven to be an elusive, painstaking ordeal, now that they're here the plan is to get an even better view from a few floors up.

It remains to be seen how high they can take it, of course. Between all the false promises this year and the roller-coaster ride they've dragged everyone on, it's getting harder and harder to know what's real or fake these days.

This much we do know after Sunday's 99-98 victory over the Atlanta Hawks:

The Lakers hit the 60-game mark with a 30-30 record and sit 21/2 games behind Utah and Houston, both of which are tied for seventh in the Western Conference standings.

"It is a big deal," said Lakers guard Steve Blake, who came up with a key steal in the closing seconds to seal the victory. "Every win we get to get closer to where we want to go is a big deal."

Certainly, it's not close to what anyone imagined when Dwight Howard and Steve Nash were added to the Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace core.