Steve Nash made his return to the Los Angeles Lakers lineup Saturday night to help the Lakers defeat the Golden State Warriors 118-115 in overtime.
Nash, who finished with 12 points and nine assists, stated Friday that he was eyeing the Christmas day match against the New York Knicks as a definite return. He said that there was a low probability that would actually play against the Warriors, but that changed Saturday.
The 38-year-old Nash had missed the last 24 games after fracturing his left fibula against the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 31, but felt good after Saturday’s win.
“To play 40 minutes after seven weeks was more than I could ask for,” Nash said. “I felt in a decent rhythm. I feel positive about it. We’ll see (Sunday). I’ll have to keep working on it. I know it will be sore and painful but I’m used to that.”
Nash did not appear to be out of shape as he broke down the Warriors defense and created shots for his teammates. Kobe Bryant thrived in Nash’s return to the lineup, finishing with 34 points and 10 rebounds.
“You put two guys together who can do opposite things and it fits extremely well,” Bryant said about playing with Nash. “When I get a rebound, I look to get the ball in his hands because I know I will be getting an easy shot.”
The Lakers managed to rally from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to carry the game into overtime behind Metta World Peace and Nash. Nash hit a clutch 3-pointer in the final minutes of regulation before the Warriors came storming back. World Peace scored 20 points, and Nash nailed a step-back shot for the final basket in overtime to push the Lakers winning streak to four games.
“The guy is a winner,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said of Nash. “There was a difference before the game. He changes everything. He changes the whole perspective.”
Before the game D’Antoni said that with Nash in the lineup this is the blueprint that he had in mind after replacing Mike Brown. Brown was fired in November after a 1-4 start in his second season.
The Lakers and D’Antoni hope that Nash can continue to orchestrate the offense as they head into their Christmas day match against the Knicks.