OAKLAND – It only took two games last season for Steve Nash to suffer a major injury, a fractured left leg preventing him from producing the offensive magic that once made him a two-time MVP and a surelock for the Hall of Fame.
The Lakers assured themselves of losing Nash so early this season, with coach Mike D’Antoni electing him to sit for tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in hopes of preserving the 39-year-old’s body.
The Lakers will feature Steve Blake at point guard and Jodie Meeks at shooting guard namely because of their experience from last season in D’Antoni’s system.
“He’s at the stage of his career where he has to be cautious,” D’Antoni said. “We need to move it along slowly so that as he goes forward, he’s ready to go all year. We don’t want any setbacks early. We’re just being cautious.”
Lakers guards Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks will start in the team’s backcourt namely because of their prior experience last season under D’Antoni’s system. Both Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry will serve as primary backups in the team’s backcourt. Nash will still dress in uniform and may play should the Lakers fall to foul trouble or injuries.
Though the Lakers are sitting Nash as a long-term strategy in keeping him healthy, he said “a couple of strange things happened” during the Lakers’ season-opening victory Tuesday over the Clippers after playing for 21 minutes. Nash declined to elaborate, but he spent parts of training camp nursing a sore left ankle and a stiff neck.
But that pales obviously to last season when he missed a combined 32 regular-season games and two post-season appearances because of his broken left leg and persisting back and hamstring issues.
“He wants to play, but he also understands he needs to be cautious,” D’Antoni said. “We think it’s the best way to go. Wecan reevaluate that after a coiuple of games and see how it goes for a couple of games in december. But thsi early, we think this is best for him and the team.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org