Kobe Bryant downplays Mike D'Antoni's poor defensive reputation

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

The Lakers star guard isn't worried about his new head coach's ability to coach defense.

Opponents of the Los Angeles Lakers decision to hire Mike D'Antoni as the team's head coach frequently cite the 61-year-old coach's inability to coach defense, but Lakers star Kobe Bryant isn't buying it. The veteran guard downplayed the perception that D'Antoni's teams don't defend in comments he made to reporters on Tuesday. Via USA Today.

"That's just because he hasn't won any championships. I mean Phil's been here, and -- to be honest with you -- we might have, in all the years I've been with Phil, (had) maybe three defensive drills the entire time. And I'm not understating it at all. But his philosophy was always -- you guys need to figure it out on your own. And that's what made him a phenomenal coach, was that he was able to sit back and trust the process and trust players to communicate with each other. That's when a team is at its best. As a result, we've had some great defensive teams. But we have to hold each other accountable though."

The Lakers defense has been passable, but not great through the team's first seven games, allowing 94.4 points per game -- a mark good for 14th in the league. With Mike D'Antoni's reputation as an offensive-minded head coach, Lakers pundit are worried that the team's defense could suffer, especially after the departure of the defensive-minded Mike Brown.

The Lakers take on the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on Tuesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. PT and the game will be televised nationally on NBA TV.

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