In a sign that they didn’t exactly put the ‘D’ back into Mike D’Antoni’s name, none of the Lakers earned any spots on the NBA’s All Defensive teams.
Instead, the first team honors went to the Clippers’ Chris Paul, Miami’s LeBron James, Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka, New York’s Tyson Chandler, Chicago’s Joakim Noah, Memphis’ Tony Allen. The second team included San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, Indiana’s Paul George, Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Boston’s Avery Bradley and Memphis’ Mike Conley.
Not that any of this should be surprising.
The Lakers lost to the San Antonio Spurs in first-round sweep. They finished the regular season ranked 21st in total defense (101 points per game), 29th in fast-break points allowed (15.9), 15th in opponent shooting percentage (45.3 percent) and 14th in opponent three-point field goal percentage (35.7 percent).
The only thing that remained more head-scratching than the Lakers’ poor play could involve the votes for all-defensive team. For the second consecutive year, the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year (Gasol) was voted on the league’s all second team. The media vote for the Defensive Player of the Year awards while all 30 NBA coaches vote for players outside of their respective teams.
Dwight Howard may have won three Defensive Player of the Year awards (2008-2011) and finished this season with a league-leading 12.4 rebounds and 2.45 blocks per game. But he only received nine votes, including three for NBA’s All-First team. It didn’t help that he lacked the timing, explosiveness and athleticism that he had in past seasons because of offseason back surgery. Howard still mysteriously beat out Indiana’s Roy Hibbert for votes, though.
Kobe Bryant may have won the NBA’s All-Defensive first team award nine times and finished on the second team three times in his 17-year career. But Bryant’s continuous gambling on off-ball defense caught up to him. Bryant only received one vote for the first team and six votes overall.
Lastly, Metta World Peace may have reported this season in better shape and brought back some images of when he won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the year award in 2004. But his improved conditioning came at the expense of lacking enough strength to guard the NBA’s elite players. World Peace did very little in making things stopping elite players, such as Miami’s LeBron James (35.5 points per game on 67.4 percent shooting) and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (34.75 points on 48.9 percent shooting). Although he held New York’s Carmelo Anthony on Christmas Day to a 2 of 11 clip, World Peace couldn’t guard Anthony in New York when he busted open with 30 points two weeks earlier.
Simply put, the Lakers talent and reputation couldn’t camouflage their deeply flawed defensive issues. This season, other coaches noticed.
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