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For Lakers' Steve Nash, it's now a game of less give, more take

By Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times Published: January 29, 2013
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“He's one of the greatest shooters of all time,” Bryant said. “He's a no-leave guy. If they do leave him, God bless them.”

The Lakers convened for training camp in October with what appeared to be clearly defined roles for their superstar guards. Bryant would be the primary scorer and Nash the top facilitator.

It's taken a few months and more than a few losses for them to realize that those job descriptions would require some tweaking.

“It's not going to be the same as it was in Phoenix for me,” said Nash, who turns 39 next week. “It's going to be different and I've got to accept and embrace that and try to help any way I can.”

Bryant can relate to old ways being gone with the recent wins. The league's onetime leading scorer has dipped to No. 3 in points per game (28.7) behind Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (29.6) and New York's Carmelo Anthony (29.4) while his assists have soared.

“I was probably born a scorer, but I was made a winner, so I figure it out,” said Bryant, the fifth-leading scorer in NBA history. “Whatever works, whatever wins championships, whatever wins games, that's what I do.”

Bryant's favorite target Sunday was the guy who usually gets him the ball. Five of the six shots Nash made were the result of Bryant assists, including a pair of three-pointers, a finger-roll layup and two running jumpers.

Six Lakers scored in double figures against the Thunder. Perhaps not coincidentally, the same number of Lakers scored off passes from Bryant.

Nash said he needed a refresher in the art of catch and shoot now that he's shifted somewhat into scoring mode. He is averaging 11.5 points and 8.1 assists for the season, the latter statistic representing his lowest output in a decade.

It could drop even further.

D'Antoni said he intended to keep using Bryant as a primary facilitator, though Nash will also remain in the mix.

“Some nights it will be Steve, some nights it will be Kobe,” D'Antoni said. “But that ball's moving and finding people and the recipients are getting wide-open shots.”

Nash is taking a large chunk of those shots, surprising the Lakers and their opponents alike.

“We're just flipping roles, man,” Bryant said. “It's pretty insane when you look at it.”



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