Steve Nash's Return Will Solve Some Problems, Just Not the Big Ones

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 22: Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers warms up before their game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on December 22, 2012 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers got themselves an early Christmas present when Steve Nash returned to help fix a few offensive problems and take down the Golden State Warriors 118-115.

His return was triumphant in that the Lakers were able to beat a tough team on the road thanks to a few big buckets from everybody involved.

Nash came in and got the ball moving (literally), and even though the Lakers watched in horror as Kobe Bryant took 41 shots, settling for jumpers over and over again, the team was able to come together and pull it out in the end.

What he brought with him was incredible ball movement. Even though Bryant took those 41 shots, mostly in isolation plays, the Lakers still found time to plug in 33 assists, 13 more than their season average.

The final stretch of the game really paints an odd picture, making it seem as if Kobe actually slowed the progress of the team in this one.

What was really strange about the game against the Warriors, however, is that the Lakers were able to erase a good chunk of the deficit with Nash on the bench, and almost all of it with Kobe on the bench.

Coming into the fourth quarter, the Lakers were down by 13 points. They started the quarter out with a lineup of Chris Duhon, Jodie Meeks, Metta World Peace, Jordan Hill and Dwight Howard.

That quintet was able to cut the lead down to eight points before Nash came in. With the return of Nash, the Lakers cut it down to four points before Kobe came back into the game.

Over the course of the final seven minutes, Kobe would take six of the Lakers' final 13 shots. All but one were from at least 15 feet away and in isolation plays.

It wasn't that he was going into full-on ball hog mode, just that he was completely intent on playing hero ball, wanting to win the game for his team rather than trust somebody else to make shots.

Offensively, that's going to remain the problem for the Lakers.

At some point in that game Kobe should have recognized that he wasn't having a great night. Meanwhile, the rest of the team was shooting 50 percent from the field.

Ball movement and assists on a large percentage of the field goals made is terrific, and that's what Nash is going to bring.

However, if the Lakers hit nights where the shots don't fall as easily, and they will, then they're going to succumb to Bryant's insatiable desire to score, and score a lot. 

Defensively, we know what Nash is worth, and we all knew coming in that he was going to continue to be the defensive liability that he always has been.

Nash was forced to chase Stephen Curry around all night long, and when it wasn't the speedy curry, it was the insatiably hot Jarrett Jack, who was able to light up Nash all night long.

That allowed the Warriors to rotate the ball more easily, or just flat out go past Nash and get into the lane.

Even though the game went into overtime, it's never a good thing to give up 115 points, regardless of how potent your opponent's offense can be.

If the Lakers continue to play defense like this, it's going to be a constant battle of trying their damnedest to outscore their opponents. Sometimes shots don't fall, and something like that just isn't possible.

At the end of the day, the Lakers still have an extremely old core group of players, they continue to search for an effective way to use their bench, and their defense is an adventure every time they step out onto the floor.