Kobe Bryant had just finished one of his most efficient games this season when his upbeat interview session with reporters stalled.
Someone asked him what the Lakers needed do to improve. He offered an important two-word response: "Transition defense."
That was Sunday. The Lakers got buried a day later in fastbreak points by the Denver Nuggets, 33-3, in a 119-108 loss. Bryant couldn't have been more accurate.
There is one place the Lakers (28-30) lead the league, and it's certainly not victories. They are surrendering 16.3 fastbreak points a game.
Bryant has a way to solve it.
"You have to almost overexaggerate getting back on defense. Literally, nobody can go to the offensive boards," he said.
That's one way of doing things.
Another is to get younger. That won't happen. Another is to stop committing turnovers. No indication that will happen, either.
The Lakers average 15.3 turnovers a game, fourth worst in the league. Bryant commits 3.6 a game, tied for third overall, and Dwight Howard is at three a game.
Howard's are less critical because they come down low, but Bryant's and Steve Nash's turnovers (2.6 a game) expose the Lakers to open-court dangers.
The Lakers don't get a break with their middle-of-the-pack three-point shooting, either, which leads to plenty of long rebounds.
There's also simply a lack of hustle at times.
Coach Mike D'Antoni noticed the Lakers weren't showing "that little extra burst and trying to get back" on defense against Denver.
"I don't mind four guys getting back. We couldn't even get three guys back. It was like five on two," he said.
The Nuggets had 10 dunks and 12 layups or tip-ins. And that was only the first half. It led to 67 points.
Another long night on the road for the Lakers. Another thing to monitor on an ever-expanding checklist.
Bryant technical erased
The NBA rescinded Bryant's technical foul from Monday's game, giving him slightly more wiggle room.
He now has 13 technical fouls this season. If he gets to 16, he will be suspended one game.
Bryant was hit with his latest technical after missing a half-court heave to end the second quarter. He claimed afterward it should have been rescinded, adding that he even spoke to referee Joe Crawford about it before the third quarter began.
"Joe didn't know what was going on. Me and a ref were having just a simple conversation and he kind of jumped the gun," Bryant said Monday.
Just the same, D'Antoni said Bryant needed to control himself.
"We can't afford to lose him for a game. Not like that," he said.
Bryant's technical fouls reset to zero if the Lakers make the playoffs.