Steve Nash Proving Los Angeles Lakers Are a Better Team with Pau Gasol

It was a sight for sore eyes, one the Los Angeles Lakers had originally anticipated they'd see many times before Christmas Day.

Steve Nash passing to Pau Gasol. The slender Spaniard putting the ball on the floor and finishing at the rim with authority. The crowd going wild. The Lakers giving cause to cover the Staples Center in celebratory confetti.

At long last, it all came together, on the biggest of regular-season stages, to seal a win against the resurgent New York Knicks.


Gasol's line on the day—13 points on 5-of-13 shooting, eight rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block in 34:17—wasn't anything to write home about. But the overall effort was illustrative of what a tremendous asset Pau can be for these Lakers, particularly with an all-encompassing assist from Steve Nash.

That last, emphatic basket was one of four on which Gasol and Nash combined on Christmas Day. The first two were jumpers for Pau in the first quarter—a wide-open look off pick-and-pop action and a three-ball after a bit of give-and-go. Gasol returned the favor in the third quarter, when he dished to Nash for an easy layup.

But the budding partnership between these two passing savants went well beyond just a quadrant of plays. They played off each other all afternoon, setting screens and sharing the ball between themselves and the rest of their teammates. Steve found Pau in his favorite spots and inspired the displaced center to contribute in ways both within and beyond the box score.

Of course, Pau wasn't and hasn't been the only (or even the biggest) benefactor amidst Steve's return. Dwight Howard's been plenty active as Nash's primary pick-and-roll partner. Metta World Peace's looks, be they from beyond the arc or going to the basket, have been markedly better with Nash at the wheel. Even Kobe Bryant's seen success in the two-man game alongside the two-t...

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