According to Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers sputtered to start the season (going 10-9 without their superstar, and 0-2 since Bean’s return.) Not so, says Mike D’Antoni. The head coach thinks the Bryantaires did just fine. Per ESPN: “After Kobe Bryant downplayed the Los Angeles Lakers’ modest success in going 10-9 without him, saying Monday, ‘It’s not like we were gangbusters before,’ coach Mike D’Antoni came to the defense of Bryant’s teammates. ‘I have to disagree with that,’ D’Antoni said after Tuesday’s shootaround in advance of the Lakers’ game against the Phoenix Suns. ‘We were 6-2 in the last eight [games before Bryant's return] and I thought we played extremely well, winning three [in a row] on the road. … So, that’s not quite right. I’m really proud of what the guys did.’ Whether the difference in opinion has more to do with Bryant’s elevated standards as a five-time champion than it does with him disparaging his teammates is open to interpretation. But even D’Antoni had some critical remarks for the team Tuesday. ‘Our defense is fairly good,’ D’Antoni said of the Lakers, who are 19th in defensive efficiency, allowing 102.4 points per 100 possessions. ‘We can be better, always be better, but in the paint we’re awful and we’ve got to get tougher.’”