Steve Nash had 12 points and nine assists against Golden State in his first… (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated…)
The Lakers finished Week 8 with a four-game winning streak, finally getting both Steve Nash (leg) and Pau Gasol (knees) back from injuries.
The team had hit rock bottom in Week 7, but with talent returning to the lineup, the question now facing the Lakers will be the extent to which Coach Mike D'Antoni can mesh Dwight Howard and Gasol on the floor.
That's a question the Lakers may spend the next few months trying to answer. Some debated if it was actually Kobe Bryant who had been shooting the Lakers out of games.
Regardless, the team needs to improve defensively, and Howard said he believes the return of Nash will help more than just the offense.
First Gasol rejoined the team against Charlotte Bobcats in a wild 101-100 victory, the Lakers coming back from a big deficit to barely hang on in the final moments.
D'Antoni decided to experiment with his rotation, moving Metta World Peace to the bench as Gasol's primary backup at power forward. World Peace noted it wouldn't be an issue since he was stronger than most power forwards.
Of course, minutes for World Peace's new role would mean limited opportunities for Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill. D'Antoni noted he'd also move Kobe Bryant to small forward and experiment with Jodie Meeks and/or Darius Morris starting at shooting guard.
The Lakers have proved to be one of the league's better three-point shooting teams this season despite playing without Nash.
Magic Johnson, who had vowed not to discuss the Lakers on Twitter until the team won three in a row, was able to break his silence after the team's win over the Bobcats. On a conference call, Johnson noted that Nash will add missing leadership to the Lakers.
Heading into their second game of the season against the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers found themselves still in reach of the fifth seed despite their difficult start.
Nash's debut led to a 118-115 Lakers' overtime victory over the Warriors. Dwight Howard struggled with foul trouble but the team finally had the opportunity to play Nash/D'Antoni style basketball in the overtime session . . . and it was effective.
After seven weeks off, Nash played 41 minutes of basketball against Golden State.
As the Christmas Day game against the New York Knicks neared, the Lakers sent out a video message to fans wishing them happy holidays.
Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.