The Los Angeles Lakers’ Poor Defense Overshadows Kobe Bryant’s Brilliant Play

Kobe Bryant recently passed Karl Malone to assume 4th place on the NBA's list of career playoff scoring leaders, but the Los Angeles Lakers' defensive performance in the past two games of their series with the Phoenix Suns, dims the glow of this accomplishment.

Bryant will head back to Los Angeles for Game Five after amassing 74 points and 21 assists, only to see his offensive brilliance in Phoenix wasted by an inconsistent, and at times horrible, Lakers' defense.

The root of the problem begins with a familiar inability to defend the pick and roll, which is a Lakers' malady dating back to the days of Shaquille O'Neal, but those Lakers never defended anything quite like this.

Phoenix's pick and roll is the steroids version, and their entire offensive scheme is centered on creating mismatches from every angle of the court, with multiple players.

Utah's John Stockton and Karl Malone ran the best version of the pick and roll I have ever seen, but Phoenix's is not far behind, and the versatility of it dwarfs anything Jerry Sloan was running in the 90's.

Steve Nash's vision enables him to see the whole court at any given time, and he is just as likely to shovel one of his patented "pocket passes" out to the perimeter, as he is to dump it in the paint.

And the Lakers' normally superb perimeter defense has been slow in its rotations, which can prove to be deadly against the Suns' stable of outside shooters.

But it's the Lakers' poor defensive play in the post that has swung the momentum of the series, and a change must be made if Los Angeles hopes to slow Phoenix down.

Amar'e Stoudemire has been the main culprit of the Lakers' misery, and he presents a different challenge for each Lakers' defender who has been asked to guard him.

Pau Gasol is long enough to defend Stoudemire, but he is not as quick, so Nash runs the pick and roll to the outside in order to isolat...

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