Nash explains the Lakers' struggles in D'Antoni's system

December, 18, 2012
12/18/12
3:18
PM PT
Shelburne By Ramona Shelburne
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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For weeks everybody but Steve Nash has had a say on how he will change things for the Los Angeles Lakers once he finally returns from a broken left leg.

How will he make Pau Gasol better? How will he make Mike D'Antoni's offense flow? How will he ease the burden on Kobe Bryant?

Fixing just one of these issues would help tremendously because while he's been out, it's been hard to even find where to start diagnosing exactly what ails the Lakers.

But with his return now in sight, potentially as early as Saturday against the Golden State Warriors, Nash has opened up a little about what he's seen while watching the Lakers play these past six weeks without him.

Hint: It hasn't been a pretty sight.

"We got in a rut there where we lost our confidence and we weren't playing with any fire or spirit or energy," Nash said Tuesday morning. "We weren't a proactive team defensively and our defense slipped. But when you're going through this transition with a new coach and new players and no training camp, we get a little down when we didn't play well and I think we lost our energy defensively."

At the offensive end it hasn't been much prettier. D'Antoni often speaks about looking for "energy" on offense, that if his system is being run correctly, the ball should move freely and find the natural weaknesses in the defense. His tone is usually philosophical, like he's speaking in a language only he is fluent in right now.

Tuesday Nash expounded on all that, and offered what is quite simply the best explanation I've heard for how and why the Lakers have struggled to implement and adjust to D'Antoni's system so far.

"The wings have to get to the corner to create space," Nash said. "The bigs have to run their man to create separation, and when they can get out quickly to create separation, when they can get a piece of their guy and get out quickly to the basket and when we create an advantage and that point guard is guarded by the big, then the flow opens up.

"But if we don't get any separation from our men, we don't set good picks, and we don't get off the pick quickly, then they can just slide through and cover us and we're back to 5-on-5.

"I think that's a dangerous position for our team because we don't create easy shots for each other and we have to take long, guarded shots which ends up killing our defense because then they run out on them. We need to get it going downhill a little bit, open up their defense and make them scramble a little bit to make room for our bigs down low and our point guards."

Yeah, there's a reason D'Antoni's been jonesing to get this guy back.
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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0