Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers played good defense on Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers, and that performance led to a change in defensive philosophy by Coach Mike D'Antoni.
The Los Angeles Lakers held practice on Monday following a blowout victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the talk at practice was still the emergence of forward Earl Clark. After pressing the soft-spoken and mellowed out forward, Clark admitted he was not a fan of the “Earl-sanity” tag.
Instead, Clark preferred his nickname of “Eazy” (yes, spelled with a "z"). That nickname is what most players on the Lakers’ team call him, and it fits with his laid-back demeanor.
The other major news at Monday’s practice was the announcement that Pau Gasol would not be playing in Tuesday’s home game against the Milwaukee Bucks. That news came as a surprise as the Spaniard sat on the Lakers’ bench on Sunday night and appeared in good spirits when he encountered some members of the media prior to the Sunday’s game.
Tuesday will be the fifth game Gasol will miss due to a concussion suffered Jan. 6 against the Denver Nuggets.
Coach Mike D’Antoni also discussed Kobe Bryant’s recent defensive performances at practice. D’Antoni said he would likely stick with Bryant guarding point guards and other players who dominate the ball, as Bryant has been an asset in that role.
Although D’Antoni described Bryant’s off-the-ball defense as “good,” not many fans or analysts would agree with the coach.
On-the-ball defense, however, has been a strong point for Bryant over the past few weeks. On Sunday, Bryant held Cavaliers’ star guard Kyrie Irving to only 15 points on 15 shot attempts. Even with the added effort on defense, Byrant managed 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting and dished six assists.
Monday’s practice just reiterated that fans should expect to see more of Bryant playing defense of quick guards, “Eazy” playing long minutes, and Gasol sitting out on Tuesday night against the Bucks.