The good news for the Lakers is that they ended their six-game losing streak on Sunday by defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-93 in Dwight Howard's first game back from injury. The bad news is that the Lakers still have an uphill climb to the playoffs, and now Mike D'Antoni is looking to increase Kobe Bryant's defensive role. From ESPN Los Angeles:
Bryant drew the primary defensive assignment against Kyrie Irving on Sunday and limited the Cleveland 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.
"He disrupts the whole offense on the ball," said D'Antoni, who added that Bryant will draw either Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis when the Lakers host the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. "He's done that a couple games, so we'll continue to milk that one."
Kobe Bryant is 34 years old, has knees that are held together by German blood-spinning voodoo, and is already playing 39 minutes per game (the most of any guard in the league). Now D'Antoni wants him to match up against the opponent's best offensive player on a nightly basis, because that is a great idea and one that will definitely not end with Bryant burning out completely.
One would think that adding Dwight Howard, a former defensive player of the year, to the roster would ease Bryant's defensive burden rather than increase it. And yet, here we are. The Lakers' desperation continues to grow and Bryant's play continues to be the only thing that is keeping them relatively afloat. It's almost enough to make us feel bad for Bryant, but this is the Black Mamba we're talking about. Deep down, in the parts of his mind that house fantasies about one day getting to win Game 7 of the championship while playing 1-on-5 and hoisting 87 shots, he's probably loving this. This season may end up being the death of Bryant, but at least he'll go out with his hands on the wheel.