While it may not have been the prettiest win for the Los Angeles Lakers, it was one of their most impressive ones of the young 2012-13 NBA season. If it not had been for Steve Nash, who played for the first time since October 31, the Lakers would not have been able to win their fourth-straight game, a new season-high for the team.
The Lakers entered the fourth quarter trailing by 13 points at Oracle Arena on Saturday night, but made a tremendous comeback against the Golden State Warriors. After shooting only 30 for 73 (.411) from the field and 5 for 18 (.278) on three-pointers in the first three quarters, the Lakers bounced back with fantastic shooting in the fourth quarter and overtime. In the final 17 minutes of the game, they shot 19 for 34 (.559) overall and 4 for 9 (.444) from deep.
Kobe Bryant, who spurred the comeback with his 13 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, credited Nash’s return to lineup as a huge part of the team’s success: “It’s easy. It’s very easy. It’s beyond easy [to play with Nash].”
Mike D’Antoni also complimented the point guard, “The guy is a winner. There was a difference before the game. He changes everything. He changes the whole perspective.”
After missing 24 consecutive games due to a fractured leg, Nash ran the offense exceptionally well and played a remarkably high number of minutes in his return as he set new season-highs with 12 points and 9 assists. “To play 40 minutes after seven weeks was more than I could ask for,” Nash commented. “I know it will be sore and painful, but I’m used to that.”
Nash’s defense remains suspect though as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack combined for 67 of the Warriors’ 115 points. As always, Nash was occasionally beaten off the dribble, but the Lakers understand that Nash’s positive attributes far outweigh his failures on the defensive end.
Nash’s last two buckets highlighted his night in Golden State. His first was a three-pointer with 1:46 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Lakers a 103-102 lead. Then in overtime, after Curry hit a three-pointer to bring the Warriors within one point of the Lakers, Nash scored on a fadeaway jumper to bring the Lakers’ lead back to three. That important jump shot forced the Warriors into attempting a three-pointer on their final possession of the night. Curry missed it and Los Angeles took the victory.
Nash and the Lakers now have two well-earned days off before their Christmas Day clash with the New York Knicks at the Staples Center. Los Angeles will be looking to get back to .500 for the first time since they were 8-8 about a month ago.