L.A. Lakers: Does Steve Nash’s Defense Matter as Long as Howard Has His Back?

Steve Nash and defense are rarely used in the same sentence unless someone is discussing Nash's obvious lack of interest in the art after watching him getting badly beaten off the dribble.

Plenty has been written about the title chances for the Los Angeles Lakers since the recent roster additions of Nash, Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison, but Nash's perimeter defense, or lack thereof, has been severely down-played by most Lakers fans.

That could be because Nash now has Howard watching his back.

The one glaring weakness the Lakers will face next season might be the inability of Nash and Kobe Bryant to keep opposing guards out of the lane. Bryant's days as a consistent perimeter defender are behind him and Nash has never understood the concept.

But Howard certainly does.

Howard's ability to block shots is impressive, but the range, athleticism and mobility that allows him to police the entire paint area is what makes him a difference-maker for the Lakers, and a savior for Nash.

As the weakest link of the Lakers defense, Nash will face constant pressure from the west's other elite lead guards, which should give a healthy Howard plenty of opportunities to increase his block totals from last season.

Even when Howard doesn't block shots, his sheer physical presence is enough to force other teams to think twice before attacking the rim, and I'm willing to bet that Nash, who is a master of improvisation on the break, returns the favor in transition. 

Howard has become a master at the art of blocking shots and maintaining possession, and when you couple his ability to run the floor with Nash's vision in the open court, the fast break opportunities are endless.

In fact, on a team featuring Bryant, Gasol and Nash, Howard's best chance to make a significant impact on offense may be through his ability to create extra possessions with his de...

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