Magic Johnson thinks the return of point guard Steve Nash will give the Lakers… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)
On Thursday, Steve Nash participated in his first full-contact practice since suffering a leg fracture early in the season.
Former Laker and ABC/ESPN analyst Magic Johnson thinks Nash will make a significant impact on the Lakers.
"They need a leader out there. They need a floor leader, and Steve Nash is one of the greatest that's ever done it in terms of point guard," Johnson said. "I think the point guards that the Lakers are having now, they are so inconsistent and then they don't know how to really lead the guys. But when Steve comes back, he can do that."
The Lakers have struggled to start the season, losing 14 of their first 26 games.
"[Nash] will make [Pau] Gasol better and Dwight Howard better. He knows how to work the pick and roll; he's a master at the pick and roll. So I think he'll give them a lot of easy buckets. And then I think the team will feel better about themselves and I think they need that right now, and probably make Coach D'Antoni's job a lot easier, as well."
It's unclear whether Nash will play Saturday as the Lakers visit the Golden State Warriors. The ABC Christmas debut may be more "realistic," according to Nash.
The Lakers host the surging New York Knicks in a Tuesday matinee.
"The Lakers and Knicks, wow," Johnson said. "You have one team who has almost the best record in all of basketball, talking about the Knicks, and another team trying to find their identity in who they are being the Lakers."
Johnson noted the Lakers (12-14) need the game more than the Knicks (19-6).
"I think that can maybe jump-start something great for them and then maybe they can build on, if they can beat the Knicks. And for the Knicks, you just want to continue on, because you've been having a great season and really show people that you are really serious about winning a championship this season. So I think that for the fans around the world and around the country, this is going to be a game that everybody is going to want to see."
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.