The Lakers are doing what they think they need to do to get themselves into the postseason. They have to improve their defense and Kobe Bryant is answer.
Bryant drew the primary defensive assignment against Kyrie Irving on Sunday and limited theCleveland Cavaliers star guard to just 15 points in the Lakers’ 113-93 victory.
In the wake of Bryant’s outstanding effort against Irving, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has vowed to use the veteran guard in similar defensive situations.
“I think that really helped us,” D’Antoni said. “It helped us against the Clippers with Chris Paul. (Bryant) wants to take the challenge, and it really helps us.”
While Bryant has the defensive credentials to perform in such a role — he’s made the NBA’s All-Defensive first team nine times and the second team three times — it’s a surprising job for the 34-year-old to assume at this stage of his career.
Last season, Bryant was left off the NBA’s All-Defensive first team for the first time since 2005, as Paul and Memphis’ Tony Allen bumped him to the second team.
The duty of playing lockdown defense also will cause Bryant, the league’s leading scorer at 29.8 points per game, to expend more energy that could be used on the offensive end.