Kobe Bryant defends Lakers' defense

Updated: January 26, 2011, 11:30 AM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant wasn't about to disparage Jerry West for saying the Los Angeles Lakers are "getting long in the tooth." He just begged to differ.

West, a Hall of Fame player and former Lakers general manager, suggested last week at a speech in Orange County that there's a connection between the Lakers' age and their consistency on defense.

Ten of the Lakers are 30 or older, including starters Bryant (32), Derek Fisher (36), Ron Artest (31) and Pau Gasol (30).

"If there's a loose ball now, how often do they get to it? The reason you can't play defense is because you can't," West was quoted as saying by the Orange County Register.

Asked about West's comments after the Lakers routed Utah 120-91 on Tuesday night, Bryant said, "We've been pretty good on defense all year. The numbers don't lie."

The Lakers have given up 100 points or fewer in 15 of their past 18 games.

Coach Phil Jackson resorted to sarcasm, saying, "I went out and bought Omega 3s right away. I knew I needed something youthful."

The Lakers certainly clamped down on the Jazz, who have lost a season-high five straight games. They held Utah to 42 percent shooting.

"They didn't look old, they didn't look tired and they didn't look like they couldn't play defense to me," Utah guard Deron Williams said.

West predicted the age of the two-time defending NBA champions will catch up to them.

"I don't think the Lakers will be good for much longer. You can keep a car running for a long time by changing the tires, etc. But you can't change a player's tires," he said.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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