Kobe: New Defensive Prowess

When Kobe Bryant went to Las Vegas over the summer to compete in the qualifying tournament of the Americas for the USA Olympic team, he looked like he was in great shape and declared he was going to focus on his defense with this team. Unlike with the Lakers, Kobe would not have to put all of his energy into the offensive side of the ball, since he had the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, and etc. to help out with the scoring. So Kobe took it upon himself to ask the coaching staff if he could guard the opposing team’s best player every single game.

Kobe’s defense had fallen off over the past few years as was seen last season when other team’s stars would put up big point totals on him (look at Michael Redd’s 45 points or Gilbert Arenas’ 60 points last season at home). This caused Kobe to rededicate himself to get his defense back to NBA All-Defensive team style. Even though Kobe had been put on these teams in years past, it was more out of respect then for his actual play.

Kobe lost almost twenty pounds over the summer and had some good practice in the Olympic qualifier to work on his defense. He looked extremely good on the defensive side of the ball while helping Team USA win the qualifying tournament, by scoring, passing, rebounding, and shutting down the opponent’s best player.

At the beginning of the Laker’s training camp, the question arose about Kobe’s defense and if the quality he showed over the summer could translate into the NBA season. At the start of the season, Kobe was not sure how much effort he would have for defense because no one knew that he would have more help on the offensive side of the ball than in seasons past. (Prior to the season, I told some of my friends that I would be more impressed with Kobe if he won the Defensive Player of the Year instead of MVP).

Once Kobe was able to get some help on the offensive side of the ball thanks to Derek Fisher, Andrew Bynum, etc., and now Pau Gasol, the defense that was shown at the Olympics in August was on display during the regular season. This defensive attitude has been contagious and others on the Lakers have stepped their defense. We all know that “defense wins championships”. Some of the problems of the Lakers in years past have been their ability to play team defense and shut down other teams and their playmakers. Kobe Bryant has had some memorable blocks this year on Tim Duncan and Yao Ming.

Kobe is also in the Top 10 in the league for steals per game. In a game in December in Denver, Allen Iverson was torching us, so Phil Jackson put Kobe and Trevor Ariza on him in the 4th quarter and they held A.I. to 2 points in that quarter, which also lead to a Laker victory. With the acquisition of Pau Gasol and the return of Andrew Bynum coming soon, this team has the offensive ability to make it out of the Western Conference. The thing that will decide how far this Laker season will go depends on how their defense comes together during playoff time.

Can Kobe Bryant keep up the intensity on both sides of the ball and make his teammates want to play good defense? I believe that Kobe will be able to motivate his teammates and keep up the defensive level that will see Kobe earn his way onto the NBA All-Defensive first team.

The Laker Nation News Team is a collaborative effort from writers of LakerNation.com to bring you the latest Lakers news and information.
  • Jack

    steals after steals, blocks after blocks, Kobe has imporved his defensive skills to a point where he hurt his finger during the act.

    I hope just like on the offensive side, gasol, bynum, turiaf and sasha steps up and helps Kobe on the defensive end too. that way we can move on with nine fingers.

  • True Lakers Fan

    Kobe DPOY DPOY AND MVP MVP

  • mfoznot

    Two quick questions:

    1. Why is Kobe so angry these days? (leads league in techs)

    2. Is it me or were the Lakers complaining a lot against the Mavs? Are they getting too full of themselves?

  • LakeShowtime

    Interesting Stat About Kobe’s scoring and how the team is winning

    After winning the NBA scoring title the past two seasons, Kobe Bryant is scoring fewer points through the first 60 games of this season. But he and the Lakers are winning more. A look at the numbers over the past three seasons:
    SEASON AVG. PCT. (RECORD)

    2005-06 35.4 .549 (45-37)

    2006-07 31.6 .512 (42-40)

    2007-08 28.2 .700 (42-18)

    One more thing, is it me, or since Kobe and Phil called ref Forte, “Don’t Mess with Junior” the refs have been a pain to deal with in games, 2 very questionable calls yesterday that should have been flagrant fouls, one on Kobe and one on Derek.

  • Jack

    [Comment ID #28333 Will Be Quoted Here]

    ’05-’06 was a disaster except for in the end. ’06-’07.. Kobe got some help from luke and lamar and we were 26-13 for a while, which means Kobe had to score less points. WHEREAS, this year: everything different. We saw our very own players mature over summer, and addition of fish and Gasol has made us virtually unstoppable. Kobe, of course can use some rest and not score too much. During the last two seasons, Kobe had to score an adreline of points. Of course, no matter how much Kobe tried, sometimes we won and the same number of times we lost.

    A player with a caliber like Kobe can score 50 on any given night. Because we got great help from everybody, we tend to forget the scorer Kobe is. Yesterday, Kobe brought us back on earth, and gave his message to everyone.

    About the game against Mavs, nothing can be said. I mean how am I supposed to beleive that Kobe went to the line 27 times but it wasn’t enough? It just was a physical game from get-go. Dallas needed a win more than anybody and Lakers wanted to get back on W side. When a game starts 7-0, message is clear. Attack::attack. In the these situations, some refs like to start calling early fouls, and make sure we don’t see players getting too much physical. And some like in yesterday’s case, just let it play and we get to watch a challenging game. I am happy with the refs. We shot 25 more free throws man. And I have not heard abt bad ref yesterday anywhere except lakersnation.com.

    I truely beleive we saw the best of Mavs, but mavs didn’t get to see the best of what L.A. has to offer. Telling you man lakers, if anything, is only going to get better and better.

  • awesomerob24

    KOBE FOR MVP!!!!

  • kelvlam

    Wasn’t the Feb 29th lost against the blazers, due to the breakdown on defense?

  • deemac1

    To answer your question mfoznot Kobe has always gotten alot of technicals cause he gets alot of missed calls by the refs!Calls that players like D Wade and Lebron would get refs seem to pass by on Kobe’s end at times.Therefore he lets the refs no about it.Sometimes they give him alot of rope sometimes they dont.Yesterdays game I was there and the refs let alot of things go. The foul on Dampier (shoulder block)should have been a flagrant.He made no attempt for the ball. Aswell as Dirk nearly beheading DFish when he went by him. Also the female ref let alot of things go. There was a call that was made in kobe’s favor where he went to the whole and got wacked but she didnt call it the trailing official did.Even though she was infront of the play. Kobe yelled at her cause she was gonna let it go.

  • 123KID

    [Comment ID #28332 Will Be Quoted Here]

    i think with the playoffs coming up, kobe is just trying to show his team and other teams that the lakers are no longer the 8th seeded team that most teams thought. he is making a statement that if teams want to play physical then he is not backing down. and plus he wants his teammates to understand that they need to set the bar up a little higher every single night.

    i think this team is capable of being a strong defensive team, especially with lamar becoming the 3, ariza coming off the bench, sasha “the machine” with his intensive defense, bynum and pau in the middle, and kobe just doing everything.

  • DCLAKER

    LAKERNATION,IF KOBE DOESN’T WIN MVP(HE MORE THAN WORTHY AFTER YESTERDAY’S GAME)I SAY WE FIND OUT WHERE STERN LIVES,KNOCK ON THE DOOR AND COMMENCE TO WHOOPING HIS OLD A#$!!!

  • Lonestar848

    [Comment ID #28332 Will Be Quoted Here]

    1. Kobe has a new sense of energy with Pau in the lineup, knowing he should win every game. Kobe is showing he is still the leader of the team, whether it’s in a good or a bad way.

    2. Even though I’m a Laker fan, the Lakers weren’t getting a lot of calls. The refs put the whistle away that game. The Lakers are getting a little cocky, but that’s cuz they feel they’re the best team in the league.

  • gugy

    F U C K THE REFS!

    VIVA LAKERS!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.myspace.com/dbricks DBricks

    [Comment ID #28332 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Answer:
    Kobe has raised his play to a playoff intensity, therefore every game is big and every call could turn out to be huge. So if Kobe feels he gets screwed on a call, he is very frustrated much like he would in a playoff series because he knows how crucial one call could be ot the outcome of the game. Basically, Kobe is already in playoff mode, and everything matters to the sucess of t he team even a ticky tack foul that want called!

  • gugy

    the only thing I know is how fortunate we are to have Kobe on our team.
    This guy is a joy to watch. Fierce competitor, thirsty for victory, he really is a model of athlete.

    Go Lakers!

  • DCLAKER

    …..AND HE WANTS TO WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS(ALONG WITH THE TEAM)BAAAAAAAD!!!

  • lilkobe24

    i love lakers!

  • SHAQ

    Little worthless but interesting trivia (or maybe a premonition):

    - Kobe’s jersey number is changed from 8 to 24. Note that 24 = 8 x 3.

    - This is the year that 08/08/08 happens.

    - Maybe that meant Kobe earns MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP

    (That’s why they call me the Big Aristotle.)

    ————————–
    I hope I didn’t just jinx it.

  • DingleBerry

    [Comment ID #28374 Will Be Quoted Here]

    awesome dude…

  • http://WWW.WHIPAPPEAL.NET thenizzzeil

    REMMEBER when Barbosa said (damn…Kobe don’t gaurd like that in the NBA) during the FIBA…i think he realized…that there was a crazier KOBE deep inside..and instead of putting it on for some 20 games…he wanted to show the NBA what the world got a taste of

  • http://WWW.WHIPAPPEAL.NET thenizzzeil

    Little worthless but interesting trivia (or maybe a premonition):

    - Kobe’s jersey number is changed from 8 to 24. Note that 24 = 8 x 3.

    - This is the year that 08/08/08 happens.

    - Maybe that meant Kobe earns MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP

    (That’s why they call me the Big Aristotle.)

    ————————–
    I hope I didn’t just jinx it.

    **** heh also he won 3x championships wearing number 8
    24>23

  • http://www.lakers.com Billy Kupchak

    which also *LED to a Laker victory.

  • MILO

    Totaly off topic here, but when the officials did not call a flagrant2 on Dork for how he clotheslined Kirilenko to the floor really did make it seem like the WWE “Rasheed Wallace” Also the way they allowed the Jazz to get away with so many fouls in the 4th quater proves that indeed the officials do decide the outcome of some games.And something else Lamar was beeing called for some bullsh!t fouls yesterday we are very fortunate to have Kobe to get us a win while going up not only the opposing team but the stupid ass officials as well.THAT IS WHAT MAKES KOBE A LOT BETTER THAN MJ OR JAMES AND THE REASON WHY HIS MVP AWARD SHOULD HAVE NOT BEEN GIVEN TO SOME RANDOM FU-CK LIKE DORK LAST YEAR.REAGARDLESS IF KOBE WINS THE MVP THIS YEAR AT LEAST ALL OF US IN THE LAKER NATION KNOW THAT HE IS AND HAS BEEN THE REAL MVP FOR THE LAST 3 YEARS…

  • Phant0M
  • Phant0M
  • MILO

    [Comment ID #28332 Will Be Quoted Here]

    You either did not watch the game or you’re obviously blind if you dont see the reason why Kobe was complaining.Maybe you should go to Lens Crafters and also buy the biggest screen tv out there so that you can see what everybody else saw except you…

  • Jack

    [Comment ID #28374 Will Be Quoted Here]

    I am sure this is exactly what kobe thought when he changed his number to 24. jst kiddn dude. not trying to start a fight.

    but, commn’ change u handle. shaq: brings good and right now more bad memories to laker fans. we don’t like him in phoenix.

    most importantly, lakers fans like me, are hoping Kobe can win a championship without you(shaq i.e.)

  • SHAQ

    JACK my friend…. I just want to be a laker again…..take me back???………pls!

    Seriously tho….I was watching the 2000 and 2007 Game 7′s against Portland and Sac, seeing the big fella hustling for the ball and saving it from the sideline reminded me of how much he gave LA when he was here. Honestly, I hated the big dumbass for leaving LA. But its done and over with so I dont really hate him anymore. I just want LA to beat Phoenix.

    Dont get me wrong, using SHAQ as my handle doesnt mean I like the dude? I just know deep inside he’s rooting for the lakers too.