Despite receiving two epidural injections in his back and a cortisone shot in his right hip, Lakers guard Steve Nash said he remains doubtful to play Game 3 Friday in the team’s first-round series against San Antonio.
“I was limping yesterday,” Nash said, who’s nursing a sore right hamstring. “I’m not limping this morning. It’s still a long way from being NBA ready.”
The Lakers haven’t revealed the exact details of Jodie Meeks on his sprained left ankle, but league sources said the test showed he has a partial ligament tear. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni still considered Meeks doubtful, but it’s unlikely he will play. Meeks didn’t take part in any of Friday’s morning shootaround while Nash only took part in a few drills.
That leaves Lakers guard Darius Morris definitely starting at shooting guard and Andrew Goudelock possibly starting at point guard if Nash can’t suit up.
“I think they’ll play really hard and full of energy and make some mistakes,” D’Antoni said of Morris and Goudelock, two second-year players the Lakers drafted in the second round of the 2011 NBA draft. “But they’re NBA players and ready to go. We’re going inside. We have to dominate in there.”
As if the burden isn’t already enough on Howard and Gasol to lead the team. That’s a dicey proposition considering the Spurs have continually fronted them inside. Without their two main playmakers in Nash and Blake, the post just shrank considerably for the Lakers’ two big men.
Howard has averaged 18 points on 62.5 percent shooting and 12 rebounds through two games against San Antonio. But he’s offset that effort with 4.5 turnovers and five fouls per contest. Meanwhile, Gasol has averaged 14.5 points albeit on only 40-percent shooting.
But the Lakers remain optimistic about overcoming a 0-2 deficit to San Antonio, despite only 15 NBA teams doing so in league history in a seven-game series.
“We can’t quit,” Howard said. “A lot of guys have gone down this year. Everybody on our team had an injury from top to bottom. That’s toughest thing on the team to deal with, but we’ve managed to keep our heads high. We go out there and practice and play as hard as we can. We’ll go to this game and do the same thing.”
Morris averaged 4 points per game on 38.8 percent shooting in 14.2 minutes through 48 games. The Lakers will honor Goudelock for winning the Development League MVP this season, but he’s played only a total of 12 minutes since the Lakers picked him up following Bryant’s injury. Lakers guard Chris Duhon hasn’t played outside of garbage time since late January.
Daunting task indeed.
“I’ll handle like I handle every situation. I’ll pray about it and go out there and let God handle the rest of it,” Goudelock said. “I’ve been doing this since I was 5 years old. This is no different if it’s Tony Parker or the D-League. I’ll have to guard them and they’ll have to guard me. It’s all basketball.”
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