It might only be two games that Steve Nash has been back in the starting Los Angeles Lakers roster, but we have already seen a huge improvement to the team.
After missing 24 games with a leg injury Nash has fitted nicely back in to Mike D’Antoni’s system, or so it seems, there is still a long way to go.
The Lakers looked a well-balanced organisation with Nash pulling the strings from the point position. It is not just the assists that the point guard will notch up it is his leadership qualities and the intensity that he delivers, one man who is happy with the return is Kobe Bryant.
“You’re talking about one of the greatest point guards ever,” Kobe said. “So he’s able to line us up and get us into things that he believes will be most effective for us down the stretch.
“We’re constantly communicating on the floor. There are stretches of ballgames where we say, ‘OK, maybe we should go to this. OK, next time let’s go to that.’ But obviously, he’s amazing.”
Nash finished the game with 16 points, 11 assists including a 10-foot fade-away which gave the Lakers a five point lead with 1:09 to play. So far this season its certainly fair to say that the Lakers have not being firing on all cylinders, but with Nash leading the offense they look more deadly when Nash producing the pick-and-roll.
Kobe has spent so long in recent years carrying the offense on his shoulder now with Nash he has someone to share the load with. It is a shame that a large proportion of this season we have been deprived of watching what could have happened on the court, none the less he is back now and for the Lakers it can only get better.
Bryant finds himself with luxuries he has never had before. The options are many, chief among them a pick-and-roll with Nash and center Dwight Howard that has Bryant often left alone.
“I get a rebound and I’m looking for him, running the floor,” Bryant explained afterward.
“If he’s penetrating or whatever, I’m looking for an angle to back-cut somebody, or coming off a screen, I’m always just looking for crevices to get open because I know he’ll find you.”
“It gives you a chance to win every night,” D’Antoni said of Nash.
“It keeps your energy up and calms everybody down.
“Everybody is getting the ball and getting into the flow. It feeds and it builds. Just like a snowball, it keeps getting bigger.”
There is no doubt about it it may have taken 28 games but the Lakers are finally on a roll.