Steve Nash “fairly confident” sore left ankle won’t linger through season

LAS VEGAS — Just as he spent nearly his entire summer trying to become healthy, Steve Nash has suffered another ailment that he’ll have to monitor.

The Lakers point guard missed the final three quarters of the team’s 104-86 preseason loss Thursday to the Sacramento Kings at MGM Grand Garden Arena because of a sore left ankle after struggling loosen it up during pre-game warmups. Nash described the injury as a “minor thing,” though Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni suggested it could linger throughout the season.

“I’m not concerned,” D’Antoni said. “I think this will happen on and off on all year. But he’s going to give you a good season and good stuff. But we have to take care of him.”

Nash estimated initially feeling pain in his left ankle either a week or two before training camp started Sept. 28, an injury he said had since improved after initially being limited in practices. Nash finished with zero points on one field-goal attempt with two assists and one turnover in eight minutes, 34 seconds after initially struggled getting loose during pre-game warmups.

Nash then went to the Lakers’ locker room during the second quarter and didn’t return.

“The fact I got out early, I hope it’s not a big thing,” Nash said. “I think I can play in the next few days.”

The Lakers leave for China Friday in a week-long trip that will feature a pair of exhibition games in Beijing (Oct. 15) and Shanghai (Oct. 18). But the Lakers also have several promotional events, including a visit to the Great Wall on Sunday and an NBA Cares event Oct. 17. Oh yeah, the Lakers want to practice too.

The Lakers had already limited Nash in practices and games in hopes the 39-year-old point guard can stay healthy. He missed 32 games last season, for reasons including a fractured left leg and persisting hamstring and back issues. Through two preseason games, Nash had averaged two points and 5.5 assists in 21.9 minutes. D’Antoni also sat Nash out of the team’s preseason opener to conserve his energy on the second night of a back-to-back game.

Will Nash’s latest injury prompt D’Antoni to limit him even more?

“That will depend on his ankle,” D’Antoni said. “He will tell me. He said he couldn’t warm it up. Every once in a while, it will happen.”

Still, Nash sounded cautiously optimistic those scenarios won’t happen often, saying he feels “fairly confident it shouldn’t be a huge issue.”

“I think today was more of an unfortunate day than a real problem,” Nash said. “It could linger throughout the season, but I don’t expect that to be the case. I hope in a month, I can put it behind me. It’s a little bit of a dance because I need this time to prepare. At the same time, you don’t want to pound the ankle to where I’m not able to function.”

Nash wasn’t able to function against Sacramento, so he sat out in hopes he can later.

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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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