Why Steve Nash's Injury Will Force L.A. Lakers to Clear Chemistry Hurdle

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistNovember 4, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24:  Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles by Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on October 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers at least have company in their early-season misery. Their 0-3 start was mirrored by the Denver Nuggets, another team with a moderate amount of hype before the start of the season.

Where the Nuggets and Lakers differ, however, is that the Nuggets started their season on the other side of the country. They saw their most recent loss come at the hands of the reigning NBA Champions the Miami Heat because of a four-point play with the clock running down.

Los Angeles has lost three games on the west coast, two of which were played in the Staples Center, by a combined total of 28 points.

To make things worse, the Lakers lost Steve Nash after he and rookie Damian Lillard banged legs on Friday night. At first he was ruled out on a day-to-day basis, but an examination revealed that Nash suffered a broken fibula. With a non-displaced fracture, Nash won't be out quite as long, but he will be out for the next week at the very least.

The loss of Nash is a very temporary thing, but it sets Los Angeles back as a team more than it sets Nash back as a player.

You see, the Lakers were struggling to come together and play a complete game before Nash was hurt. Without him, they'll have to try to string themselves together for the duration of his injury and then get their game together as a team.

Offensively I'm not as worried about the Lakers as the knee-jerk media seems to be. Their 97 points per game isn't the best in the league, but shooting nearly 50 percent is good enough to put them second in field goal percentage.

They're a team that's shooting well while simultaneously having some bad luck on offense. It's not that they aren't running the offense well, but rather they aren't running with each other well.

LA's averaging nearly 20 turnovers per game compared to exactly 20 assists per game. It's never good to have an assist-turnover ratio that close to 1:1.

What that points to is that they have a team that is playing sloppy basketball either because their players aren't great ball handlers (which isn't the case with Los Angeles), or because they're out of synch. 

Really it's not hard to be surprised by that, and it's something we expected to an extent, just not to a level this extreme. The Lakers played just two preseason games together with the entire starting lineup on the floor, then they made it through a game and a half before Nash went down.

Another angle we must examine is the thought that Dwight Howard probably isn't completely healthy yet.

As a guy who was expected to anchor this defense coming in, Howard has been a bit lackluster at times and the Lakers have given up an astounding 106.7 points per game. That should be evidence right there that something's wrong with Howard.

Maybe he's not hurt enough to pull him out of the game, but he's obviously still working his way into shape.

Combine that with the fact that Howard didn't fully participate in a practice with the team until a month ago and they've got a recipe for disaster.

There's a reason to be concerned about this Lakers team in the short-term, but the long-term shouldn't be in the forefront of everyone's mind.

With Nash out, the team will take longer to gel together, especially since they'll have to work him back into the lineup next week. What that does is put them in jeopardy of digging themselves into a deeper hole, potentially creating a situation where they'll end up with a worse playoff spot than they would have hoped for.

That being said, they've got the 0-2 Detroit Pistons coming into town tonight. If there's any remedy for a rough start it's a game against a team that both can't score and doesn't play great defense.