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Kobe Bryant is making an effort as a better defensive player.
Earlier in the season, it was apparent that Kobe Bryant wasn't going to waste his legs playing defense.
The nine-time All-Defensive first-team player (three-time second team) is having one of the best offensive seasons of his career.
The 34-year-old can step up defensively at any point, though, and he's beginning to do just that. Against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, Bryant worked on scoring guard Brandon Jennings.
USA Today's David Leon Moore had the following quote from Jennings:
I don't think I've ever seen anybody put that much pressure on a point guard full court for a whole game. It was probably the best defense somebody's ever played on me since I've been in the league - just constantly putting pressure on me, touching me, hitting me at all times in the game. He wouldn't let me just catch the ball easy, and I wasn't able to get the ball a lot, so it was pretty difficult.
It's one thing to go crazy and be active on the ball; most guys can do that. But it's another to play team defense.
Here is what coach Mike D'Antoni said of Bryant, via Los Angeles Times writer Eric Pincus: "Uh, he's good. I think sometimes he just, you know, uh ... yeah, he's good."
It's a higher level of defense to sit in help, be active on rotation, push the ball to the weak areas of the offense and make multiple-effort plays.
Bryant seems willing to place more focus in this area. If he can do so, it will greatly benefit a Lakers team that ranks 26th in the league in points allowed per game.
The Lakers are off to their worst start through 38 games since 1993-94. They'll need a boost defensively, not simply more points from Bryant, to turn it around.
Look at what Carmelo Anthony accomplished earlier this season when he chose to play better defense.