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SERIES REPORT / LAKER NOTES

Bryant, O'Neal Earn Honors for Defense

May 05, 2000|TIM KAWAKAMI

Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal: All-defense. Is this an omen?

With the Lakers and Sacramento Kings readying for tonight's Game 5 showdown, Bryant was named by league coaches to the NBA's all-defensive first team, edging out good friend Eddie Jones, and O'Neal made the second team.

It was the first all-defense honors for either player.

"I'm happy that my colleagues felt they were good enough players to be on the first and second team--I'm very happy for them," said Laker Coach Phil Jackson, who, like every coach, was not allowed to vote for his own players.

"I want to see them demonstrate that defensive notoriety tomorrow night and give the reasons why they were voted.

"That's the explanation we're looking for--our defense has to be better."

Bryant said he set his sights on this honor last off-season.

"Just for the challenge," he said. "There's been a lot said about me defensively, when I first came in the league, being young and not being able to guard guys."

And what might this award mean for tonight's game?

"Hopefully, I'll be able to get away with a little bit more," Bryant said, grinning.

Bryant did have an argument with one part of the voting--putting O'Neal on the second team behind Alonzo Mourning.

"I think it's kind of ridiculous, to be honest with you, because of what he's done for us all season long," Bryant said. "He's been our anchor defensively. My opinion is, I think he should be first team."

*

Power forward A.C. Green, who made only two baskets combined in the Lakers' two losses at Sacramento, said that players other than the "big three" of O'Neal, Bryant and Glen Rice must shoot and score tonight.

"Chris [Webber] is leaving me a lot and really trying to clog up the lane," Green said of the King power forward. "I have to find a way to get into the open spot where Shaq can either hit me or somebody else can hit me for open shots."

Green, who also did not have a rebound in Game 4, said his game isn't necessarily predicated on getting chances to score.

"Well, everybody needs a basket every now and then," he said. "But obviously, the good thing about it, for 15 years in the league, I've never had to rely on my offense. I'm not too concerned about finding a basket or not.

"It's just going out there and doing what it takes to get a victory."

*

Bryant acknowledged that the Lakers, after winning Games 1 and 2 at Staples Center, probably were not anticipating that the Kings would play with the passion they displayed in Games 3 and 4 at Arco Arena.

"I think we went up there and expected them to kind of roll over," Bryant said. "And they didn't. They played with a lot of resolve."

After experiencing the shrieking at Arco, Bryant had an easy answer when asked what it meant in this series to have won 67 regular-season games: "Have home-court advantage. You know, it'd [stink] if we had to play this game in Sacramento."

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