LOS ANGELES — The night, for Steve Nash anyway, started with an assist on a Wes Johnson three just minutes after Nash came off of the bench in the first quarter of the Lakers’ home matchup with the Houston Rockets. With one assist under his belt, he was now just four away from passing Mark Jackson for sole possession of third place on the NBA’s all-time assist list.
Everything wasn’t that easy for Nash, who had some bumps during his quest for history Tuesday night.
In the second quarter, there was a possession in which he had two tries to get assist No. 10,332. He found Johnson, who missed a layup and later center Robert Sacre, who couldn’t connect on a fallaway jumper.
With history on the line, there could’ve been some nerves from Nash’s Laker teammates. But they would eventually find their way.
Jordan Farmar connected on a three from the left wing. Nash was three away.
Jordan Hill then hit from the elbow. Nash was two away.
After a long three point attempt by the Rockets’ Chandler Parsons, Nash corralled the rebound and found Jodie Meeks all alone for a layup. He was now tied with Jackson and just one away from sole possesion.
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Then came more misses. Meeks curled in the lane and missed a contested layup. With each shot attempt from a Nash feed, the Staples crowd became more and more anxious as they continued to be alerted of how far away Nash was from third place with messages displayed on the arena monitor.
And then came the behind-the-back pass from Nash to rookie Ryan Kelly. This was sure to be the one. It had the flair of many of the sensational assists Nash had accumulated during his NBA career. The crowd grew louder, excited about the pass and excited that history was on the line.
The jumper from Kelly from the top of the key, was no good.
Kelly redeemed himself on the defensive end, blocking a shot attempt by Harden near the rim. The ball found the hands of Sacre, who made an outlet to Nash, who found Meeks all alone. With a two-hand jam, Meeks recorded assist No. 10,335 for Nash, placing him in sole possession of third place on the NBA’s all-time list.