Mike D’Antoni Struggles to Compliment Kobe Bryant’s Defense

by January 15, 2013

Despite the gaudy offensive numbers, Kobe Bryant has struggled mightily on the defensive end this season — at times, he has been atrocious on that end of the floor. Bryant did step it up on Sunday night against Kyrie Irving. While complimenting Kobe’s willingness to guard folks 1-on-1, Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni had trouble admiring his off-the-ball defense. Per the OC Register and LA Daily News: “Bryant held Irving to 15 points, well below his 23.6 scoring average, which helped hold the Cavs averaging only 41.1 percent shooting from the floor. ‘He disrupts the whole offense on the ball,’ Coach Mike D”Antoni said. ‘He’s done that a couple of games. We’ll continue to milk that one.’ Bryant, whose on-ball defense has earned him All-Defensive team honors, is expected to split his time guarding Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings when the Bucks visit Staples Center on Tuesday. However, Bryant’s off-ball defense doesn’t quite match the intensity when he is focused on the ball. When D’Antoni was asked about Bryant’s off-ball defense on Monday, he tried to find the right complimentary tone then gave up. ‘Umm, it’s good … You know. I think sometimes he just … You know … Umm … Yeah, it’s good,’ he said, laughing. […] Bryant didn’t speak to reporters following Monday’s practice. After the Lakers’ win over Cleveland, though, Bryant touted what his on-ball defense will provide to a team that ranks 26th in total defense (101.87 points per game). ‘I got to get to the frontlines and start to do a better job defensively and play with a lot more energy defensively,’ Bryant said. ‘Hopefully, it trickles down to everybody else.'”