OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Steve Nash sliced through the lane, broke down the defense, and created shots for Kobe Bryant time and again, just the way he has for teammates throughout his brilliant 17-year NBA career.
So much for an adjustment period.
Bryant had 34 points and 10 rebounds, Nash finished with 12 points and nine assists in his first game in almost two months, and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Golden State Warriors 118-115 in overtime on Saturday night.
"It's easy. It's very easy. It's beyond easy," Bryant said about playing with Nash, who had missed 24 straight games while recovering from a small fracture in his lower left leg. "You put two guys together who can do opposite things and it fits extremely well. When I get a rebound, I look to get the ball in his hands because I know I will be getting an easy shot."
While defense remains an issue for the Lakers, the offense had no problems in Nash's return.
Metta World Peace and Nash each made a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minutes of regulation before the Warriors came back. World Peace scored 20 points, and Nash converted a step-back shot for the final basket in overtime to lift Los Angeles to its fourth straight victory.
This one had 20 lead changes, eight ties, and a sellout crowd of 19,596 cheering every possession as if it was the last one.
"To play 40 minutes after seven weeks was more than I could ask for," Nash said. "I felt in a decent rhythm. I feel positive about it. We'll see (Sunday). I'll have to keep working on it. I know it will be sore and painful but I'm used to that."
As well as the Lakers looked at times, the Warriors seemingly had the game in their hands.
Jarrett Jack scored 29 points and David Lee had 20 points and 11 rebounds in a disappointing collapse for Golden State, which had won 11 of 14 to get off to its best start in 20 years. As so often has happened in this one-sided California rivalry, though, the Lakers took over when it mattered most.
"This will not put a damper on our Christmas spirits," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "We're excited about where we're at, and we're excited about where we're headed."
For the first time in a long time, the Lakers and Warriors share that sentiment.
The 38-year-old Nash was injured in the second game of the season, the former Phoenix star's first with the Lakers, who have struggled for most of this season without their point guard. Nash showed no signs of rust throughout the game, and not in the crucial moments, either.
Nash's 3-pointer gave the Lakers a 103-102 lead with a little less than 2 minutes left in regulation. Festus Ezeli answered with an alley-oop from Jack to put the Warriors back ahead, only to watch Bryant swish a pull-up jumper from 20 feet on the other end.
After Lee's jumper gave Golden State the lead again, World Peace made a corner 3 to put Los Angeles ahead 108-106 with 24.1 seconds remaining. Jack followed with a tying, step-back shot, and the Lakers took over with 14.9 seconds left before Bryant missed a jumper over two defenders at the buzzer.
Bryant made three quick jumpers in overtime, including a fadeaway that left him pumping his fist near the Warriors bench, to put Los Angeles ahead by four. He sank 16 of 41 shots and has scored at least 30 points in eight straight games.