2012-13 Top 10 Moments: #9
When the Lakers looked at one another on the bench before starting the fourth quarter at Golden State on Dec. 22, things appeared pretty bleak even with Steve Nash returning for the first time in nearly two months, his team going just 12-14 without him.
Nash, back from a fractured fibula, looked in one direction to see Dwight Howard, still struggling to find his rhythm from offseason back surgery and battling foul trouble that held him to only nine minutes in the first half and three more in the third quarter. There was Pau Gasol, battling through knee tendinitis, sitting next to a struggling-with-his-jumper Kobe Bryant, who hit only 5 of 17 shots in the first half.
Meanwhile, the Warriors were hot, getting a huge Jarrett Jack game off the bench (29 points, 11 assists) to help build a 13-point lead for the home team entering the fourth, to which they'd add a point early in the final period.
Then it all changed: despite getting a fifth foul, Howard was everywhere on defense, swallowing up Warriors screen/roll action and diving to the rim on offense; Jordan Hill drained a jumper, then slammed home Nash's miss; Metta World Peace scored at the rim; and Bryant smashed a dunk home off Howard's feed to cap a 12-0 run, Golden State's lead down to just two.
A terrific fourth quarter continued as the Warriors started to hit shots, but the Lakers kept coming, Bryant draining a three to tie the game at 95, and the first lead since early in the game coming as Jodie Meeks converted a triple on the next offensive possession. Nash and World Peace added clutch triples of their own in the final two minutes, answering consecutive hoops by Jack and David Lee as the game headed into overtime.
L.A. quickly went up four as Howard dunked and Bryant sank a turnaround, and the lead was 116-112 two minutes later thanks to two more tough jumpers from Kobe, canceling out pull-up jumpers from Jack and Klay Thompsom. Steph Curry hit a triple to get the Warriors within one at the 33.8 second mark.
But in his first game back, Nash came up with the final dagger, pulling up for a fading jumper in the paint with 16.9 seconds left to seal the deal.
Lakers 118, Warriors 115.