WASHINGTON — It's going to take all the Lakers, not just the point guards, to slow down ballhandlers who have given the Lakers trouble, Derek Fisher said after practice Thursday.
Fisher and Jordan Farmar must do their part, for sure, because they are the first line of defense. But they alone shouldn't be accountable, Fisher said.
"The great defensive teams are not only the ones that are great on on-ball defense, but it's really those four guys behind the guy guarding the ball that make the difference," Fisher said. "We're still improving in that area."
So help needs to come from Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
After not giving up more than 100 points in any of their first seven games, the Lakers have allowed into triple digits in four of their last six games as point guards such as Jason Kidd, Devin Harris, T.J. Ford and Andre Miller have constantly been able to get into the teeth of the Lakers' defense and disrupt.
"Screen-roll [defense] is one of our weaknesses as a team," Coach Phil Jackson said.
The Lakers will avoid facing another top-notch point guard tonight because Washington Wizards All-Star Gilbert Arenas is still out after knee surgery.
"We've just been trying to key on stopping and containing dribble penetration with the ball," Fisher said. "I think at times we've lost sight of that because some teams have better frontcourt players."
Fisher said teams have adjusted to some of what the Lakers like to do defensively.
Instead of allowing the Lakers to push point guards to the sideline, teams are running high screen-and-rolls with their centers and power forwards, forcing Gasol and Bynum farther from the basket.
That, in turn, has stretched the Lakers' defense and given opposing point guards lanes to drive.
"It seems like every night it's another guard that if you don't watch out he can dominate a game by not only scoring points but getting a high number of assists as well," Fisher said. "That's when we're going to have problems."
The Lakers have a six-city, 11-day trip in late January and Bryant said that's the time when the Lakers can really build chemistry.
This three-game trip through Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Washington has been the longest so far.
"Those are the trips where you really bond and come together," Bryant said, referring to the long trip later this season. "But even though this is a short one, you're still on the road, you're still together, you're still hanging out, you're still eating dinner together. So you're kind of building that community that we like."
After practice, Bryant still was giddy about having met Earl Monroe on Wednesday night after the Lakers' victory in Philadelphia.
Then he mentioned a Hall of Famer he has yet to meet.
"I've never met Larry Bird before," Bryant said. "I'd like to."
Bird, the former Boston Celtics great, is the president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers, who beat the Lakers on Tuesday.