Mike D'Antoni returns to New York to face his former team. (Mark Duncan / Associated…)
Kobe Bryant had a sharp critique of the Lakers after they lost, 103-99, to the Philadelphia 76ers.
"You just saw an old ... team," said Bryant. "I don't know how else to put it. We're just slow."
Coach Mike D'Antoni couldn't quite agree with Bryant's comments.
"I love Kobe to death, but I don't think we're slow and old," said D'Antoni. "We're a little slower and little older, but we're not slow and old. We won't go there."
There's no way to deny the math. Of the Lakers' 15 players, seven are at least 30 years old (Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison, Steve Blake, Chris Duhon and Bryant).
As the team prepares to play the Clippers on Friday night, D'Antoni noted the Lakers can offset their deficiencies by taking care of the ball and reducing turnovers.
"We've got to get back. The biggest thing that the Clippers live on is in transition and they get there by making you turn it over," said D'Antoni. "They'll break out some, that's what they do. We can slow them down by not turning it over."
The Lakers have a size advantage over most teams with Dwight Howard and Gasol, but foot speed has been an issue for the Lakers dating to Coach Phil Jackson's efforts to play Andrew Bynum and Gasol together.
D'Antoni is trying to keep practices short to make sure the Lakers have the stamina to try and keep up with some of the many quicker teams around the league.
"We had two great practices before the Philadelphia game. I thought our legs were a little weary, maybe we went too hard," said D'Antoni. "We've got to be careful because it is, not an old team, but an older team. Certain guys I've got to take care of because I'm playing them big minutes. We just can't expect them every day to do that."
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.