Before Steve Nash made his return to the floor against the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers had won three straight, but weren’t convincing anyone that they had finally turned the corner under new head coach Mike D’Antoni.
Kobe Bryant continued to put up huge numbers and Dwight Howard was getting the job done by crashing the glass while producing All-Star caliber numbers across the board. Jodie Meeks was coming around with an improved shooting touch from outside and Metta World Peace continues his impressive play on both ends.
Despite all of these positives aspects of the new-look Lakers, the team was still sitting two games under .500, with a 12-14 record before Nash’s return.
Once Nash was able to return from injury, the Lakers’ coaching staff was thrilled to finally run the offense that was molded around Nash back with the Phoenix Suns. With 12 points and nine assists in 41 minutes, Nash played better than expected after missing almost two months of basketball activity. Although Nash played well against the Warriors and was pivotal in the Lakers getting the best of the Warriors in the overtime thriller in Oakland, it was clear that this team still needs time to mesh and improve.
The two-time NBA MVP talked about the Lakers needing to improve moving forward via Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com:
“Everyone deals with things differently,” Nash said of the challenge that the Lakers face to continue to improve. “Some people embrace that. Some people feel pressure and like it. Some people react the other way. I think for our team, we have got to embrace it, enjoy it and we have got to realize we’re going to be under a microscope and it’s going to be fun. We’ve got to embrace that challenge and try to play as best we can, get as many wins as we can and enjoy them afterward.”
After one game with Nash back in the fold for the Lakers, the results were better than expected.
The team’s future looks promising if Nash can stay healthy and the team continues to come together under Nash’s leadership on and off the court. Howard recently stressed better communication to improve the Lakers’ defense and all-around team chemistry. Obviously, the team hasn’t been consistently clicking on the floor on both ends but a finally-healthy Lakers squad should see significant improvements in team chemistry in the coming weeks.
If the chemistry doesn’t start to come around with Nash leading the way, the Lakers will continue to be surrounded by trade rumors headed towards the NBA trade deadline in February with Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill and may be even World Peace at the center of these trade rumors.