As the Lakers ring in the New Year, Steve Nash represents the Champagne. He instantly popped open the Lakers' offense with pinpoint passes that look as smooth as a well-poured glass.

Nash also represents the confetti. The Lakers care only about purple-and-gold streamers dropping from the Staples Center rafters in June, but his four-game stint following a 24-game absence because of a fractured left leg has given the team reason to break out the party horns.

Nash also represents the New Year's resolution. The Lakers (15-15) enter tonight's game against the Philadelphia 76ers (14-17) at Staples Center convinced they've fixed what initially made things difficult to grasp in coach Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced offense.

"Steve's pace of the game allows people to flow around him and field their positions better than anybody," Lakers assistant Dan D'Antoni said. "When you see him with the ball, the pace that he plays allows people to get into the positions."

Dan D'Antoni's observations go beyond Nash's four-game stint with the Lakers, in which the 38-year-old guard has averaged 12.3 points on 60 percent shooting and 9.5 assists per contest. Dan worked as an assistant to his brother, Mike, both with the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns. In Phoenix, Nash won two regular-season MVP awards in four years under D'Antoni (2004-08).