Mike D’Antoni “cautiously optimistic” about Steve Nash’s recovery

Although the Lakers haven’t offered a specific timetable on Steve Nash’s return, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said he remains “cautiously optimistic” the Lakers guard will return in time if the Lakers make the playoffs.

Should the Lakers clinch either a seventh or eighth playoff seed in the Western Conference, it’s likely they will play Game 1 Sunday either in San Antonio or Oklahoma City.

“I think he was better today than yesterday,” D’Antoni said. “But he’s not ready today.”

 

Nash’s absence in the Lakers’ season finale tonight against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center will mark the seventh consecutive game he missed since experiencing soreness in both his right hip and hamstring. Nash received an MRI Monday that confirmed nerve issues in his hamstring and an epidural injection Tuesday morning to minimize the pain.

In recent days, Nash has worked with player development coach Phil Handy on ball-handling drills.

“He’s close,” D’Antoni said. “He looked pretty good today. That’s without me talking to him, but I watched him. You can see his mood. He’s happier. I can read him. But we’re a ways away. Let’s try to get into the playoffs first. Then we’ll figure him out.”

A win against Houston would secure the Lakers a seventh seed against the Spurs. A Utah loss and  a Lakers loss would give them an eighth spot against the Thunder. And a Utah win coupled with a Lakers loss would knock them out of the playoff picture for only the third time since 1976.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com
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