Steve Nash returns in wild Lakers win
OAKLAND — The Lakers came to the place they know so well, where they’d done so much regular-season damage over the years, and glimpsed a future more promising than anything so far this season.
Steve Nash was back and so were the Lakers for a night, shaking off three utterly awful quarters to beat the Golden State Warriors in overtime, 118-115, Saturday at Oracle Arena.
They almost dissolved amid a slew of Kobe Bryant misses but got enough out of him and a few others down the stretch to win their fourth consecutive game.
It was wildly entertaining and almost predictable, just like many Warriors-Lakers games here. The Lakers are now 13-2 at Golden State since 2006.
Are they more balanced with Nash? Uh, no. Not yet. Bryant took an unsightly 41 shots, his most in almost five years, made 16 of them and scored 34 points.
Are they better on defense? Absolutely not. Jarrett Jack, of all people, blistered the Lakers for 29 points (making 13 of 19 shots) and 11 assists.
But are they better? Slowly but surely, yeah. They’re now 13-14, with an armload of home games over the next two weeks after taking out Golden State (18-10).
“I thought there was some improvement in some areas,” Nash said. “I think we grew up a little bit, in the fact that we battled and hung in there.”
Nash had 12 points and nine assists in his first game back since sustaining a small fracture in his lower left leg. Metta World Peace had 20 points, including a three-pointer late in regulation that helped create overtime, as the Lakers rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter.
Nash played a surprising 42 minutes after sitting out since Oct. 31 because of a small fracture in his lower left leg.
“The biggest thing is that he’s one of the best point guards to play the game in the last 10 years so obviously we should be better,” Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni said before the game. “We’ll see what problems we still have and try to iron them out.”
Well, there were quite a few.
It started with defense and continued with imbalance. Bryant hadn’t shot this often since launching 44 attempts in a January 2008 victory over Oklahoma City.
But he made a 13-footer after slipping on the baseline to give them a four-point edge with 1:20 left in overtime. Then Nash hit a 14-foot fadeaway for a three-point lead with 16.9 seconds left.
Then the Lakers got a little lucky.
Warriors guard Stephen Curry missed a three-point attempt, teammate Festus Ezeli took the rebound and threw if right to Pau Gasol.
Game over. Lakers survive.
If Nash, 38, isn’t viewed as the savior of a team that badly needs saving, he’s something close to it.
“Everybody gets a little more pep in their step,” D’Antoni said. “It doesn’t solve everything, but it is a good step forward.”
At the very least, it gives the Lakers a playmaker at a fairly important position.
“It’s huge in this league. Just ask anybody. Ask the Clippers how important it is,” D’Antoni said.
The Lakers had won 17 of their last 18 games against the Warriors, including a 101-77 victory last month.
Make it 18 of 19. Maybe, just maybe, there’s something worthy in this team after all.
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