ANAHEIM — Despite nursing injuries to his left ankle and neck, Lakers guard Steve Nash will play in the team’s preseason finale tonight against the Utah Jazz at Honda Center.
Even if Nash’s health has relatively improved, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni appears inclined to stay conservative regarding his playing time depending on any any progress or setback that greets the Lakers’ 39-year-old guard.
“It will fluctuate,” D’Antoni said regarding Nash’s minutes during the regular season, which begins Tuesday against the Clippers at Staples Center. “We’re in unknown territory. We don’t know day to day how he feels. If he feels good, he’ll play more minutes. But we’ll try to keep it to where he can go all year. Then we’ll find out about back to backs.”
Both D’Antoni and Nash sounded open toward both limiting his minutes and sitting out in certain back-to-back games in hopes of preventing last season’s nightmare. Then, Nash missed missed 32 games because of a fractured left leg and back and hamstring issues. But the Lakers’ exhibition season has hardly yielded much clarity.
Nash has averaged 3.5 points on 42.9 percent shooting and 3.71 assists in 16.7 minutes through six preseason games. But he sat out the second half in a preseason game two weeks ago because of a sore left ankle, while missing the second half of the Lakers’ preseason win Tuesday against Utah because of a neck injury. Meanwhile, Nash has often sat out the tail end of practices.
D’Antoni said he feels more inclined to rest Nash because of the point guard depth the Lakers have with Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar. But D’Antoni remains reluctant in outlining a big-picture strategy on figuring out Nash’s minutes.
“What’s the difference between 24 minutes and 23, or 24 and 22 1/2?,” D’Antoni said. “We’re trying to win a basketball game. He’ll pay the way he’s capable of playing.”
Meanwhile, Lakers forward Chris Kaman will miss his second consecutive preseason game because of a persisting stomach virus. The Lakers’ starting lineup will include Nash, Steve Blake (shooting guard), Nick Young (small forward), Shawne Williams (power forward) and Pau Gasol (center).
Will the Lakers field that as their starting lineup opening night?
“It’s definitely a possibility,” D’Antoni said. “You try to do that. Something could happen. We’ll see.”
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