Nash: Lakers Don’t Know Who They Are Yet
The Los Angeles Lakers are a very popular visiting team these days and it’s not because they added two of the game’s best-known players during the off season. These Lakers just can’t seem to win on the road and their two-time MVP point guard Steve Nash isn’t enjoying the type of season he expected.
“It’s different in that we haven’t been playing well and that’s disappointing,” Nash said. “At the same time, there’s been constant change. Whether it is coaching or injuries, whatever have you, we haven’t had a chance to figure out who we are yet.”
The Lakers were first in the Pacific Division with a 41-25 record last season and adding Dwight Howard and Nash should have made the team Western Conference Finals contenders. The first half challenges the Lakers have experienced were definitely not expected.
“I think that’s one of the things that I didn’t expect when I came here,” Nash said. “But, it’s great, I’m always up for a challenge. We just have to keep working on getting better, fighting every day and trying to turn this thing around.
“[We are] trying to figure it out in an optimal, cohesive way. It’s really been difficult to do that and it’s not like it’s anyone’s fault. We’ve had a change of system and coaches, injuries and two months later we still are trying to find ways to figure out how to take care of our bodies. There have just been a lot of injuries and stuff working against us. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just been collectively difficult.”
While it can’t be said the team is clicking on all cylinders, the Lakers can still put up points and after 40 games, Kobe Bryant is leading the league in scoring.
“I think it just takes time,” Nash said. “We need time to play the game and get our offense fitting together. We have a top-10 offense, but I think we can be much more efficient. It’ll come and Kobe [Bryant] will still help us a lot.”
Part of the issue on offense is Nash himself. Nash missed 24 games because of a left leg injury and despite averaging the fifth-most assists per game in the league, he still feels the rust of not playing for nearly two months. Nash’s analysis of his own play confirms he isn’t in mid-season form.
“Pretty good physically, I feel well. My fitness is good,” Nash said. “I feel a little bit of rust, still not quite myself about some of the plays I make or don’t make. I don’t quite feel comfortable yet. I’ll look at film after [a game] and in my mind I’ll be like, ‘Why did you do this? Why didn’t you do that?’ It’s just a little bit of rust, but overall I feel good.
“I think right now more than anything else it isn’t trying to focus on scoring, it’s getting the offense flowing together. It’s been difficult. I’d like to shoot more to try to get in an offensive rhythm, but I still want and need to be a point guard.”
At least from Nash, there is no sense of panic about the Lakers season. The point guard believes in the abundant talent on the Lakers and that they can still turn things around, commentary from the media and the fans notwithstanding.
“It’s not really necessary to panic from the fans and the media because we have high expectations of ourselves,” Nash said. “For me, the expectations were something I knew coming in. We’re trying to figure it out every day. We all come in and work hard every day trying to figure it out. We just haven’t had that growth spurt yet.”
Despite the challenges, Nash has absolutely no regrets about his trade to the Lakers this past summer.
“My decision really came down to Toronto and New York until the Lakers traded for me,” Nash said. “My quality of life is good in L.A. and I’m happy to spend time with my kids. The Lakers’ situation basketball-wise is really exciting even though we have some work to do. This year has been priceless and I have no regrets about how it all came together.”
For Nash, his season is barely a month old and he can see the impact of coaching changes, players who are not familiar with each other and his own need to shake off the rust from an extended injury layoff. The coaches and players have barely had any time to get to know each other. Unfortunately, the season is half over and the talent-laden Lakers are a 12th-place team. Even if it’s justified, the not knowing each other yet excuse is starting to wear a bit thin.