Monthly Archive for December, 2012

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Nash Back in Action

The Lakers came from 14 points down early in the fourth quarter to ultimately defeat a now 18-10 Golden State team 118-115 in overtime on Saturday night. In related news, Steve Nash returned to the court after missing seven weeks due to a non-displaced fracture in his left leg.

Nash finished with 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting, making both of his three-point attempts, totaled nine assists and coming up with several key plays late, including a game-cliching step-back jumper to put the Lakers up three with 16 seconds left in overtime.

“I’m trying to set up my teammates, but if I got to a point where I couldn’t find someone, I knew I could get my shot off,” said Nash. “I’m just proud because everyone hung in there when we could have folded and we got a good, tough road win against a team that’s hot.”

His numbers didn’t nearly cover his contribution; if we include the hockey assist, he’d have had closer to 15 dimes.

“He’s a great point guard,” said Pau Gasol. “We all know who he is and what he does. We’re all excited and eager to continue to have him out there. He’s just going to make things better for all of us, give us great rhythm and poise out there. He’s a great decision maker. Anytime you have a guy like that on the floor, you’re in great shape.”

Down the stretch in particular, that decision making was key in Oakland, as Nash repeatedly got the Lakers open shots out of the high screen/roll sets he ran to perfection for Mike D’Antoni in Phoenix. Kobe Bryant had some terrific looks on the weak side of the floor when the defense had to sink in to prevent buckets at the rim from Dwight Howard or a duck in from Gasol.

“He orchestrated things,” said Bryant of Nash. “He got us in some sets and in actions and that’s exactly what a great point guard is supposed to do. He lined us up and saw things that were executing well for us and he went to them. You saw being a lot more organized tonight.”

“I think that we’re a completely different team with him out there,” added D’Antoni. “He’s done that his whole career so it’s not really that much of a surprise. He’ll even get better and he’ll get used to the guys … the guy is a winner, that’s about all you can say.”

There’s no question that the Lakers had a different, more positive vibe about them in the locker room after the game, and it centered upon the kind of energy Nash creates.

“For me, it’s about our spirit,” Nash summarized. “We have to have a smile on our face, by physical, enjoy the battle, move the ball, maybe play more with our mouths and our talking than our quickness. We can accomplish a lot; we just have to get that chemistry, that good feeling, that belief in ourselves and we’ll win some games.”

That’s music to D’Antoni’s ears, having someone on the court that’s focused on uniting a talented roster that’s been in search of direction, and one that knows his system better than any player in the world.

It’s also what had Bryant yelling “Nasty Nash!” in a joyful post game locker room.

Want more Nash? Below is a transcription of his media session at Monday’s practice:

STEVE NASH
Q: Opening comments at practice:
Nash: The big thing for us is we need to win games. I’m just anxious to play and get wins. We’ve won four in a row and if we can keep this going, we can put ourselves back in contention. We should be a desperate team right now.

Q: On if he sees anything different in his teammates now that he’s back:
Nash: I don’t know about that. For me, it’s great to be back playing with these guys. I’m happy I can contribute. We’re just trying to build this team and build some spirit. We’ve had a lot of time this year where we’ve been in transition and it’s caught us thinking, it’s caught us maybe not believing, or not knowing where we’re supposed to be going. That’s sort of a paralysis we’ve seen so hopefully we can kind of get through that.

Q: On if he senses desperation from the team:
Nash: Yeah, I think we realize the position we’re in. We can’t drop games. We have to go out there and try to win every single game, and go for wins instead of trying to adjust and figure out what we’re doing. We have to win games and figure out after what transitions need to be made still.

Q: On running the pick and roll with certain guys and how long it takes to develop a chemistry where you know where your teammates will be:
Nash: It depends. It comes in a certain amount of time with each different guy, but I think this is a totally different scenario because we have a number of different players adjusting to a new coach, a new system and to one another. We’re still trying to figure out now only the relationship with one another in the pick and roll, but five guys in the pick and roll because that’s what we really try to accomplish – getting five guys involved. And details – I think that’s something that’s continuing to come but we still have some improvement left to do.

Q: On the team’s ball movement at GSW (33 assists):
Nash: I think we created advantages in the pick and roll that left odd numbers on the weak side. If we can get a team scrambling on defense, then the ball can move, find the open guy, we make shots and we get assisted baskets.

Continue reading ‘Nash Back in Action’

Lakers – Warriors Postgame Numbers

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 118-115 overtime win at Golden State:

46
Bench points for the Lakers, led by Metta World Peace’s 20. Jordan Hill added 14 points and eight rebounds after missing two games because of back spasms and getting a DNP-CD in the last one, playing 21 minutes in part due to Dwight Howard’s constant foul trouble. Jodie Meeks contributed 12 points with seven boards, while Chris Duhon offered seven assists to one turnover. It was a terrific overall effort from the reserves.

41
Minutes for Steve Nash in his first game back in almost two months. The two-time MVP finished with 12 points and nine assists on 5 for 8 shooting from the floor, making the only two three-pointers he attempted, including a go-ahead triple in the final minutes of regulation. His teammates couldn’t have been happier to have him back on the court, truly drawing confidence from his presence, while also getting better shots as he ran the pick and roll to typical expertise and thus picked up several hockey assists (Dwight Howard had all three of his assists in the second half and OT off screen roll kick outs). Mike D’Antoni offered this on his PG, who added the game-sealing pull-up jumper to put L.A. up three in the final seconds of overtime:

“I asked him ‘Are you okay?’ He said ‘Yeah, great.’ So he just keeps on going 40 minutes after not playing for like seven weeks. He’s unbelievable and down the stretch he made some great plays … “(The late jumper) doesn’t surprise me. If it wasn’t him he would have kicked it to someone else. The guys a winner that’s about all you can say.”

14
Point deficit the Lakers overcame in the final quarter, outscoring Golden State 34-21 in the fourth period to force overtime.

2
Clutch free throws made by Howard, who has steadily improved his stroke at the line in the past several games, making 3 of 4 in the game and 20 of 29 (69 percent) in his last five. He played only 29 minutes due to foul trouble in an OT game, but managed to stay on the floor for nearly the entire OT and the whole fourth quarter despite picking up his fifth foul 12 seconds into the fourth. He totaled 11 points, six boards and three assists with three turnovers and two blocks, but picked up his defense late.

0
Free throws attempted by Kobe Bryant on 41 field goal attempts, many of which came off drives into the paint. He did take (and miss) one technical foul shot, but he could hardly believe not drawing a personal foul throughout the contest. He made 6 of his 12 shots in the fourth quarter and overtime, including three needed jumpers in OT, having finally given up going into the paint. Bryant’s 16 of 41 (an NBA season-high in attempts) was still a better percentage (39.0 percent) than Golden State’s best player, Steph Curry, who made only 8 of 23 shots (34.7 percent).

Lakers 118, Warriors 115: Dec. 22 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Saturday night road contest against Golden State, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Nash, Morris, Bryant, Gasol and Howard
Warriors: S. Curry, K. Thompson, H. Barnes, D. Lee, F. Ezeli

FIRST QUARTER
7:30 The first shot since Halloween from Steve Nash came from three-point range: swish. Lakers fans certainly appreciated seeing that happen, and in this case it tied the game at seven, early. Moments later, however, Dwight Howard picked up his second foul, on offense, and had to go the bench early. That brought Metta World Peace in, alongside Jodie Meeks, who replaced Darius Morris and his two fouls. Golden State was playing some physical D inside, with Howard, Gasol and Bryant all missing shots at the rim.

4:20 The Nash-Gasol pick and roll is going to be pretty fun to watch, folks. The first two times both produced buckets, first a Nash floater, than a Gasol alley-oop off Nash’s floated pass, with his left hand, in rhythm. I can’t remember the last time Gasol dunked the ball off screen/roll, as he’s often more of a popper than a roller, but with Nash, we should see it all. That put the Lakers up 17-14.

0:00 Nash checked out at the eight minute mark, but the Lakers continued to play well to close the period, getting some excellent bench energy from Jodie Meeks (a three-pointer), Metta World Peace (seven points, two assists) and Jordan Hill (four points, two rebounds), enough to take a 31-27 lead out of the period.

SECOND QUARTER
10:00 World Peace drained a triple to reach 10 points in his nine bench minutes moments after a fantastic defensive play from Meeks, who sprinted back in transition to break up what would have been an easy layup for Draymond Green. With that stop and triple, L.A. took a 36-31 lead.

0:00 From that point on, L.A.’s defense was very poor, and it didn’t help that Howard’s third personal foul put him on the bench with seven minutes to go. That allowed him to play only nine minutes in the half, in which he missed all but one of four shots, grabbed only two rebounds and had three of the team’s 12 turnovers. Bryant also struggled, hitting only 5 of 17 shots as he often complained about no calls, both factors leading to the Warriors taking a 61-53 lead into the break. Nash had seven points, four dimes and three boards in his 18 minutes, while the bench was a bright spot: World Peace had 11 points, Hill 10 points and four boards and Meeks five points with some good hustle in transition and on D.

THIRD QUARTER
9:13 L.A. needed a lot more from Howard, but got only three minutes out of him to start the third quarter, before he picked up his fourth personal foul. So he subbed out with four fouls, three turnovers, three rebounds and three points in his 12 minutes. L.A. cut the lead to five moments later when Morris scored at the rim, but a 5-0 Warriors run (capped by their 7th triple) put GSW back up by 10 at 71-61. David Lee was doing much of the damage, reaching 18 points with his eight boards on 8 of 14 shooting, countering Kobe’s push to 17 points on only 8 of 22 FG’s.

3:19 The 16th turnover of the night came on the offensive end, where L.A. had stacked up PF’s all night, Bryant being called for an off the ball call that GSW turned into a layup on the other end. The lead was 81-68, until a Nash alley-oop to Kobe cut the latest Warriors run, but an 11-point deficit meant far more work had to be done just to get back into it. Gasol was looking tired in just his second game back after missing eight with knee tendinitis, and Howard was on the bench, the two bigs combining for only 12 points and nine boards (nine and nine for the Spaniard).

0:00 A poor final minute for L.A. saw the Warriors build a 13-point lead heading into the final period. L.A. had erased an 18-point deficit to beat Charlotte at home on Tuesday, but they had the lead trimmed to seven starting the fourth quarter, and took the lead early in the period.

FOURTH QUARTER
8:52 Howard picked up his fifth foul only 12 seconds into the fourth, but he stayed in, and was part of a 6-0 run that cut GSW’s lead to eight early in the period. L.A. was still within striking distance despite the struggles throughout.

6:50 Then, suddenly, a 13-0 Lakers run cut Golden State’s lead to just two at 90-88. MWP was instrumental, and Kobe capped it with a dunk after sitting for the first 11 points of the stretch. But at the 4:28 mark, Kobe capped a 7-0 run by draining a triple, and Jodie Meeks gave L.A. a 98-97 lead moments later. Great stretch of ball.

3:07 After L.A. took the lead, the Warriors got five straight points, Jack hitting a 3 and Barnes slamming home a miss, allowing a 102-98 lead. The crowd was going crazy, with both Warriors and Lakers fans freaking out at every bucket.

0:00 The final few minutes were entirely crazy: with 2:27 left, Howard hit two free throws, his biggest of the season, to get L.A. within two; Howard stripped Ezeli on the other end after an offensive board; Nash nailed a 27-foot three-pointer from the top of the arc to put the Lakers up 103-102 with 1:46 left; Ezeli slammed home an alley-oop with 1:35 left; Kobe countered with a 20-foot pull-up J; Lee hit a 16-footer to put Golden State right back on top; World Peace hit a corner three to put the Lakers up two with 24 seconds left; Jack hit a pull-up J nine seconds later to tie the game, and Kobe missed a baseline J that took us to overtime. Ridiculous display of shot making.

OVERTIME
3:58 L.A.’s late shot making continued into the OT, as Howard slammed home a World Peace miss, and Bryant hit a weak side jumper off screen/roll run by Nash to make it 112-108. Jack had an answer, but Kobe scored again, open on the weak side once again thanks to Nash screen/roll. Kobe’s third jumper of the OT came as an answer to Thompson’s jumper, keeping the margin at four, though a Curry three with 33.8 remaining made it tight once again…

0:16.9 Enter Nash, who drained a step-back J in the lane to seal the 118-115 victory in a wild, potential team-building road game at Golden State in which the Lakers trailed by 13 entering the fourth quarter. Up next are the Knicks on X-Mas Day. See you there.

Nash Hopeful for Saturday, Certain for X-Mas

Steve Nash responded well to his first full-contact practice on Thursday, and again completed a full practice on Friday afternoon before the team flew to San Francisco in advance of Saturday’s game against Golden State.

In short, Nash said there’s “a chance” he will play in that game, but said he will “for sure” be ready for the Christmas game against New York on Tuesday. He’s officially listed as a “game-time decision” for the Warriors, even if some optimism abounded from his teammates at practice that he’s looked strong and could certainly make a positive impact if he’s ready to play.

“I think he’ll change everybody’s game a little bit because of his facilitating skills and he’s such an unselfish player that he’ll find the open guy and he’ll make the right play,” said Pau Gasol. “He’ll create a flow for us offensively and it’ll give us energy. That will translate to good defensive possessions, too, and it’ll cut down on transition points.”

Below is a full transcript of Nash’s comments after Friday’s practice:

Q: On how he felt physically at practice:
Nash: It felt pretty good. Obviously there’s a little soreness after not doing anything for seven weeks, but I can’t complain. It’s getting better, so I’m optimistic I can put this behind me.

Q: On if there was anything that caused him any more stress on the injury:
Nash: Not really – just the overall stress, contact and all the different forces that I didn’t face for seven weeks. It takes a little time, but I also feel I responded fairly well.

Q: On whether he’ll play at Golden State:
Nash: We’ll see. I’ll have to talk with everybody not only how I feel tomorrow, but if fits in the big term picture. There’s a chance I play tomorrow, but Christmas for sure.

Q: On what will determine if he plays at Golden State:
Nash: I think, one, if I feel good tomorrow after two days of practice and what the trainers, coaches and everyone thinks about (me) playing. This is two days of basketball in seven weeks. It’s not a home run that I just go out in an NBA game. I’m going to see how it goes tomorrow and talk to everybody, but I’d say the odds are low.

Q: On where he’s at in terms of basketball game ready:
Nash: Well, right now, it’s pretty much completely basketball with rehabilitation in mind. There are stages getting myself back up to speed that I can’t cheat. You can’t cut any corners. You have to go out and play and try to retrain your body for the demands, and then get your game and your fitness levels up to the standard.

Q: On who he thinks he can help most when he comes back:
Nash: I never really try to single out one person. For me, I try to be aggressive, put pressure on the defense and make the right play. If we can all play that way, we’ll make each other better and everyone will benefit from it. My goal is to be aggressive, put pressure on the defense and make the right play.

Q: On if he’s felt like himself the last couple days:
Nash: Surprisingly, I felt better than I thought. Obviously there are still some growing pains to get through.

Q: On the challenges Golden State presents:
Nash: They’re having a great season regardless. They’re playing terrific at home, but they have wins on the road as well. Everyone knows they have shooters and David Lee can cause mismatches up front. I think they have a great spirit this season. Their coach has built chemistry with the players and the players have a real understanding of what he wants. They believe in him and I think it’s put them in a position where their spirit is good every night and it gives them a chance to win.

Q: On Mike D’Antoni’s starting lineup and whether it’s his job to accentuate the skills of the players on the floor:
Nash: Yeah, and I think they both are good players and they can help the team depending on the situation. It’s not something I think about – you play with your teammates and you play with whoever is on the floor. They’re both terrific players with good skillsets, so it’s just a matter of all of us being comfortable with one another and then it won’t matter as much who is on the floor.

Q: On Metta World Peace accepting his role off the bench:
Nash: It’s a pleasure to play with someone like Metta (World Peace). He’s a guy that plays hard every day, every game. He’s tough mentally and physically. He’s a great person. He’s accepted his role coming off the bench with grace and that’s the kind of leadership you need – a veteran guy that can say: ‘You know what? I have no problem coming off the bench.’ You have guys like that on your team, you have a chance.

Quote Round Up: Thursday Practice

Here’s a transcription of interviews from coach Mike D’Antoni, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard from Thursday’s Lakers practice.

*Click on each name to watch the video.

MIKE D’ANTONI
Q: On having consecutive days of practice and what it will do for the team:
D’Antoni: The biggest thing is getting Pau (Gasol) back 100 percent and Steve Nash. Today was a good step forward. Trying to put it together and see what problems arise, but I’m more excited at what we saw today.

Q: On Nash returning on Christmas Day:
D’Antoni: Whatever day he returns will be Christmas.

Q: On how Steve Nash looked in practice:
D’Antoni: He looked good, real good. You never know how he wakes up. The first step was good and positive, he looks good on the floor, he said he felt good. We’ll wait till tomorrow to see if he can do it again and just build on it from there.

Q: On Nash’s conditioning:
D’Antoni: He’s got a pretty good motor. It will maybe depend a lot on that, but he looked good out there – just as good as the rest of the guys. He wasn’t huffing and puffing that much.

Q: On any limitations with Nash when he gets back:
D’Antoni: That will depend on Gary (Vitti) if he tells me yes. I doubt if they will. He’ll give me the nod if he needs a blow.

Q: On keeping MWP at the power forward spot:
D’Antoni: Probably. I like where he is and it helps us to play him at the four and move those guys around. He’s going to play some three, but I don’t know as a starter or not. He’s OK with either role. There will be certain matchups where he has to start – OKC, for example, with Kevin Durant – so there will be times that he starts.

STEVE NASH
Q: On returning Saturday at Golden State:
Nash: Potentially. It depends how well I respond today and then tomorrow again see how I go. We don’t really need to rush. I don’t want to come back too soon, although that’s the tendency. You want to come back as soon as possible, but I don’t want to miss another 10 games because I aggravated something.

Q: On if he feels any pain:
Nash: There’s a fair amount of pain but I think that’s going to be the case for a month or so even when I play. I was in a really tough spot being that the fracture is in the joint, so it’s a little tricky.

Nash: The pain is not the issue. I don’t mind playing through pain. It’s more: ‘Am I doing damage to it and is that going to prevent me from playing the rest of the season?’ We just have to measure that as the next day-and-a-half or two days go by.

Q: On his conditioning level:
Nash: Obviously, I’m not in great condition after being pretty inactive for seven weeks, but that’s just the harsh reality. It’s going to be a period where I try to get myself not only back in shape, but try to find my game, rhythm and timing.

Q: On if while sitting out there was anything that changed his thoughts about this team:
Nash: No, I always thought this was a team that had great potential, and I still do. Without a training camp, a lot of new players and a new coach, it’s going to take us time to understand what we’re trying to accomplish at both ends – ingrain new habits and details and when we do that, we’ll take off.

Q: On if there’s any unknown regarding his injury still:
Nash: The fracture is the majority of it. I still have some nerve issues, but the fracture being in the joint, it’s a painful area.

Q: On his expectations when coming back:
Nash: First and foremost, I want to try and help the team win games and stay healthy to see if I can build myself back into shape. If I can stay healthy and get myself back in shape while helping the team, I’ll worry about tangible goals as far as wins and things like that afterwards. But now I just want to come back, help the team and get myself in a situation where I’m strong and in shape enough to finish the season.

Q: On any positives he’s seen with the team this season:
Nash: We’ve had moments. We’ve definitely proved certain things. We’ve been very inconsistent. It’s really difficult, because like I said, new players, new coach, new offense, no training camp and most of the time, not enough bodies to practice. It’s a difficult thing to learn in film and walkthroughs.

Q: On when he plans to return:
Nash: No plan. I just want to try and get through today, see how I feel in the morning. If I’m able to, practice tomorrow and see how I feel Saturday. I think Christmas is probably the most realistic.

Q: On if his conditioning will take weeks to get back:
Nash: Yeah, there’s no way to duplicate playing a basketball game. It’s probably going to take me awhile unfortunately.

Q: On if he feels the team knows their roles yet:
Nash: It’s going to take time. With their roles, it’s more the details of what coach wants, so that’s going to take time. It’s hard to define exactly what roles are because we’re not a finished product. It’s evolving still.

Q: On if he feels he’s rushing back:
Nash: The tendency is to rush back, but at the same time, you have to be careful. I don’t want to rush back, play two games and then be out for an extended period of time.

Q: On if he feels this is the beginning of the season for him:
Nash: Yeah, this is my preseason right now, especially with a new coach, you can wash away the first preseason. (I had) seven weeks off. This is it, so hopefully it’s onward from here.

PAU GASOL
Q: On how important it is for a team to know their roles:
Gasol: It gives you stability, it gives you a mindset and it gives you consistency. There are no surprises and no ups and downs that way.

Q: On if the team understands their roles yet:
Gasol: We’re getting there, we’re getting here. We’re getting our pieces back now and hopefully we’ll get some consistency and a path aligned that we want to follow and build on every single game.

Q: On if the team had that understanding among each other last year:
Gasol: In spurts. Not consistently last year. I remember a bunch of games, we’d play really well for a quarter or two and give up big leads and end up losing some games. That was just a bad sign throughout the year even though we finished third in the conference. Still, it wasn’t good enough for us to get to the playoffs and get that consistency – and it happened to us in the playoffs, too.

Q: On how important it is to have two days straight of practice:
Gasol: A lot knowing the circumstances and taking into account we’re getting Steve (Nash) back. I need this practice, too. We need it as a group and as a unit. After the tough schedule of being on the road two weeks straight, it feels good to be home and being able to work on things.

Q: On what Steve Nash’s return will do for his game:
Gasol: I think he’ll change everybody’s game a little bit because of his facilitating skills and he’s such an unselfish player that he’ll find the open guy and he’ll make the right play. He’ll create a flow for us offensively and it’ll give us energy. That’ll translate to good defensive possessions, too, and it’ll cut down on transition points.

Q: On how his knees feel:
Gasol: They feel better, they feel better. I’m feeling better as I go along since I stopped playing. Every day feels a little better, I feel a little stronger, I feel more confident I can put a load on them and move faster.

Q: On if this time helps where the schedule is not as condensed:
Gasol: It helps, it helps. The season goes that way sometimes. You get a week or two that you have a crazy amount of games and then you get a break where you can recuperate, work on some things and heal up. This is one of the moments that we need to take advantage of working things out, getting back into a good rhythm and getting guys back and into good shape.

Q: On the schedule being positive considering Nash’s return:
Gasol: Yeah, like I said, it’s good timing for that matter.

Q: On if it feels like the season is starting now with Nash returning:
Gasol: Yes and no, because obviously, we’ve been through almost two month of the season, and there’s been a lot going on during those two months. It’s not like we’ve been at home or working on our own, but it feels good to have Steve (Nash) back, and get everybody healthy. When we get the other Steve (Blake) back, that’ll help also, too.

KOBE BRYANT
Q: On what he sees from the team that leads him to believe they can turn it around:
Kobe: We’re playing much better. The last three games, we’ve been playing much better. We’re moving the ball a lot better and playing with a lot better energy.

Q: On if he can see the light at the end of the tunnel:
Kobe: It’s kind of been a long year. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs. Now, things are starting to stabilize a little bit for us.

Q: On how Steve Nash looked in practice:
Kobe: He looked fine, he looked fine. He looked just like he normally looked after coming off an injury. You kind of inch along a little bit, see what you can get away with. He kind of tested the waters a bit, but he looked good.

DWIGHT HOWARD
Q: On having consecutive days of practice and what it will do for the team:
Dwight: These are good days for us to get in and battle each other, work through the offense and work on defense. It was the first day we had everybody on the floor in awhile, so it was good to have. I think overall we had a great practice.

Q: On how Steve Nash looked in practice:
Dwight: Steve looked great. It looked like he didn’t miss a step. I’m happy he’s getting healthy and happy he’s having an opportunity to practice. It’ll be good for us.

Q: On what Nash’s return will do for his game:
Dwight: Just the pick and roll. He knows how to get the ball in the right spot. Today, he hit me with a pass that I hadn’t got hit with since I’ve been here. Not any offense to the guys that have been playing, but he makes some tough passes.

Q: On how he gets everybody on the same page on defense:
Dwight: We just have to keep practicing. One thing everybody is understanding what we have to do on defense. Today, everybody did a good job of helping the helper. Our pick and roll defense was good today, and we’re learning. It’s a process and the best thing we can do to get out of this is talk to each other and talk to each other, and we’ve been doing that.

Dwight: The biggest thing is communicating with the guys and letting them know where to be. It’s not about cracking the whip or getting upset because it is a learning process and I want them to really understand what we have to do on the defensive end. We’ll be able to put point sin the board. It’s about getting back – our transition defense has to be a lot better. That’s where teams do most of their scoring against us. We have to make sure we get back and load up.

Dwight: It’s all about will and being in the right position. You have to know where to help, when to help how to close out. There are certain things you have to know, and it takes time to get it. We could talk about it everyday, we could show film, but you have to really practice it, and we’re doing that.

Injury Update: Nash Practices Fully

For the first time since suffering a non-displaced fracture to his lower left leg on Oct. 31, Steve Nash competed in a full practice, including a 5-on-5 full-contact scrimmage, on Thursday afternoon.

So … when will he play in a game?

“I think Christmas is probably the most realistic,” Nash said, revealing that his leg felt “good” in practice but suggesting he needs to see how it responds before drawing a conclusion.

The Lakers have only one game before Tuesday’s X-Mas contest with the New York Knicks, a Saturday tilt at Golden State, and Nash said it’s “possible” he’d return to that game. Yet he won’t really know until he sees how the leg feels tomorrow, and furthermore how it responds at shootaround on Saturday.

If all goes well, he could make the start against the Warriors, but it is more likely he’d wait until Tuesday’s contest. Regardless, his coach couldn’t have been happier to see him on the practice court.

“Whatever day he returns will be Christmas,” said Mike D’Antoni. “He looked good, real good. You never know how he wakes up. The first step was good and positive, he looks good on the floor, he said he felt good. We’ll wait till tomorrow to see if he can do it again and just build on it from there.”

Nash has cautioned that when he returns, his engine isn’t going to be revving at full speed, since he simply hasn’t had the chance to get into basketball game shape. But D’Antoni isn’t too worried about that, either.

“He’s got a pretty good motor,” said D’Antoni. “It will be maybe depend a lot on that, but he looked good out there – just as good as the rest of the guys. He wasn’t huffing and puffing that much.”

To reiterate, we’ll have to see how Nash feels after Friday’s practice. But for now, it’s certainly good news for the Lakers that he made it through a full-contact practice no worse for wear.

Lakers – Bobcats Postgame Numbers

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 101-100 win against Charlotte:

7
Straight games in which Kobe Bryant has scored at least 30 points, an all-time NBA record for a player at or over the age of 34. Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did so for five straight games. In that stretch, Bryant is averaging 33.7 points towards a season average of 29.5 points per game, which leads the NBA.

9
Offensive rebounds for Dwight Howard (18 total), the Lakers finishing with 16 as a team, which led to 17 second-chance points. Charlotte, however, posted 21 offensive boards towards 22 second-chance points.

10
Blocks for the Lakers, with Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard swatting four shots apiece, Howard most notably blocking Kemba Walker at the rim with five seconds left to help preserve a one-point victory. L.A. ranks 10th in the NBA in blocked shots at 5.7 per game, while Charlotte – who blocked 6.7 shots – managed eight in this one (four from Byron Mullens).

17
Points off the bench for Jodie Meeks, who has played so well that Mike D’Antoni said he’s considering starting him in L.A.’s next game, pushing Kobe Bryant to the small forward slot. Meeks hit five three pointers in 10 attempts, and has scored in double figures in five of six games.

18
Points the Lakers fell behind in the third quarter, necessitating a 28-4 run from the 5:37 mark in the third to the 8:56 point in the fourth just to get back in the game. Pau Gasol keyed the run with his all-around play, as despite being out of rhythm on offense (3 of 10 shooting) he posted 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four blocks.

42.1
Field-goal percentage for the Bobcats in the second half on 17 for 46 from the floor, including a 6 for 27 fourth quarter in which they scored just 16 points, after they’d scored 58 points in the first half.

75
Percent from the free-throw line for Dwight Howard, who converted on 6 of 8. The Lakers hit 21 for 27 from the charity stripe, a 77.8 clip. In his last four contests, the big man has made 17 for 25 (68 percent), after being under 50 percent for the entire early season. He’s now slightly above 50 percent (50.6 percent).

Lakers 101, Bobcats 100: Dec. 18 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening home contest against Charlotte, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Duhon, Bryant, Ebanks, Gasol and Howard
Bobcats: K. Walker, G. Henderson, M. Kidd-Gilchrist, B. Mullens, B. Biyombo

FIRST QUARTER
6:03 After a very slow start, the Lakers finally started to play once Jodie Meeks and Metta World Peace checked in off the bench, Bryant twice getting to the hoop for five straight points (one an and-1) to cut Charlotte’s lead to three at 16-13. They’d led by as many as eight as Devin Ebanks struggled in a starting role, hitting only 1 of 4 shots, while Gasol missed his first three attempts in his first game in two weeks.

4:26 The Lakers were down 21-15 when Gasol replaced Howard, to play center, and by quarters end L.A. had taken a 27-25 lead. The Spaniard did a bit of everything, scoring five points with five rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots. That’s the guy LAL fans have been spoiled by over the years, not the injured-looking one that struggled to 42 percent shooting.

SECOND QUARTER
10:10 With Howard’s tip-in, the run had reached 11-0, 7-0 to start the second, giving L.A. a 34-25 lead. Gasol continued to excel before getting a rest moments later, leading L.A. on a 19-4 spurt since he replaced Howard with 4:26 left in the first. With the Spaniard going to the bench, MWP moved back to power forward, Howard of course staying in the middle, as Kobe got some rest. Duhon, Morris and Meeks were in the back court.

0:22.1 Ready for the other extreme? A 21-6 Bobcats run came almost out of nowhere to produce a 58-51 lead for the visitors. Bryant hit a jumper to cut the margin to five going into halftime, and if you’re trying to give the Lakers an excuse, here’s one: the line ups were completely out of whack with so many guys in and out of action, and there was simply no familiarity on the court. Something that can’t really be confused: the Lakers weren’t really getting back in transition after missing wide open shots, and the young/quick ‘Cats took advantage, Ramon Sessions and Kemba Walker combining for 28 points, and pushing a 12-4 edge in fast break points.

THIRD QUARTER
8:47 Charlotte could not miss, from anywhere. Among the four straight shots they hit to start the third quarter, two were three-pointers, one in the corner after a busted play in which L.A. nearly had a steal. Meanwhile, L.A. hit just one of five shots, and suddenly the deficit was 71-57 (13-4 run to start the period) with the home fans booing.

3:08 The Bobcats’ lead went to as many as 18 before the Lakers finally got something going, their own 9-0 run chopping it back to nine at 80-71. Howard hit two free throws to reach 6 of 8 on the evening, and Gasol added 1 of 2, L.A. at 70 percent on the night (where they’d been in three straight games). They’d cut it still further in the final minute, two Bryant free throws making it an 84-77 game, the Lakers holding Charlotte to just four points in the final 5:21 of the period to put themselves well within striking distance.

FOURTH QUARTER
8:56 It was all Lakers to start the fourth, suffocating defense on the perimeter continuing to hold the Bobcats scoreless (Darius Morris and Metta World Peace leading the way) while Morris and Jodie Meeks hit a pair of threes, allowing LAL an 89-84 lead when they’d trailed by as many as 18 at 80-62. Crazy game of runs.

5:36 With just 2.2 left on the shot clock and L.A. holding a one-point lead, Kobe buried a three-pointer in the corner, falling away, to make it 95-91, ending a streak of four straight points from the Bobcats. However, Charlotte would get the next two buckets, the second coming after Bryant forced a shot and missed on the other end, resulting in a 95-all tie with 2:36 to play.

1:26 Breaking the tie was a driving Bryant, who scored through a collection of ‘Cats at the rim to make it 97-95. Howard then cleared his 18th rebound on the next possession, and Kobe drained a deep jumper to put the Lakers up four. (The second Bryant shot gave him 30 points for the seventh consecutive game, a record for players 34 years and up in league history).

0:00 Charlotte cut the deficit to one on a Sessions and-1, and with Bryant’s miss on the other end, had a chance to win in the final seconds. The Bobcats came extreeeeeemely close to doing just that, as after Howard swatted Walker with five seconds left, a Gerald Henderson put-back attempted danced around the rim but wouldn’t stay down, and the Lakers survived to win 101-100. Up next is Golden State on Saturday; we’ll see you there.

Dec. 17 Injury Update: Steve Nash

It was expected to have Pau Gasol practice on Monday with his teammates, but seeing Steve Nash out there as well was a bit of a surprise.

The veteran point guard – who’s been out since Halloween – participated in a full practice, though the Lakers did not scrimmage or go through full-court contact drills. Nonetheless, being on the court left him feeling fairly optimistic, as he hopes to return from the non-displaced fracture in his left leg sooner than later.

“Hopefully I can play by Christmas,” said Nash. “We’ll see how it responds this week. Today we didn’t do any 5-on-5 or contact.”

While seeing how things go as the week goes on is an unknown, Nash said he’s definitely noticed progress of late.

“(My leg has) responded pretty well,” he explained. “I’ve been able to do some jogging, some running, some 1-on-1. Today was the first day actually getting up and down the floor a little bit even though we didn’t (scrimmage). It’s definitely sore, and definitely going to be a process not just to get back to complete health but also get in shape.”

Contact practice is the next step, but he’ll definitely be out of the team’s game against Charlotte on Tuesday and very likely miss Saturday’s game at Oakland.

The Christmas Day game, against New York, is eight days away, on Tuesday.

Dec. 17 Injury Update: Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol, who’s been pained by tendinitis in both knees this season and missed eight straight games, could return in the team’s Tuesday evening game against Charlotte.

“I’m feeling well, I’m happy with the practice that I did today and how I felt,” he said after his first practice session with the team in two weeks. “We’ll see how I feel tomorrow and decide then.”

Gasol noted that he hasn’t simply been resting, but working with the team’s training staff to strengthen the areas around his knees in order to help him maintain health throughout the season.

“Strengthening everything around (the knees) to make sure they don’t take as much load as they have, and protect them, too,” he explained. “We have therapy, strengthening, conditioning and rest. I can move around much, much better. I can push off my legs and my knees much better, much stronger without pain, so that’s quite an improvement.”

Gasol is officially listed as a game-time decision. The team will certainly welcome his return, as they lost five of the first six games without him before beating Washington and Philadelphia in the last two contests.

Kobe Bryant told media members after the victory at Washington that he expects things to be a lot different once the Spaniard returns.

“When Pau gets back, we’re going to play through him a great deal,” he said. “Probably at the start of the shot clock, we’ll move around the perimeter, this that and the other. Last 10 seconds of the shot clock – when we don’t have anything – we’ll post him up. Then he can make plays and make guys better, which he’s fantastic at.”

Since joining the Lakers in 2008, Gasol has almost always been on the court. He missed only one game in both the 2008-09 and 2011-12 seasons, and played all 82 in 2010-11. Hamstring strains kept him out of 16 games in the 2009-10 season, meaning he started in all but 17 contests in his first four full seasons in purple and gold. Furthermore, Gasol never missed a playoff game, starting in a total of 89 since the 2007-08 season.