This sounds painfully repetitive.
Steve Nash is considered doubtful to play when the Lakers (22-46) host the Orlando Magic (19-51) Sunday at Staples Center because of nerve irritation in his back and hamstrings. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni still held out hope Nash could play a home game on Tuesday against the New York Knicks.
“He feels better, bu it’s still precarious,” D’Antoni said. “We’re just being real cautious.”
Nash posted a season-high 11 assists in 19 minutes in the Lakers’ 117-107 loss Friday to the Washington Wizards, but he left with 2:14 remaining when nerve pain emerged.
Did Nash play too many minutes?
“Nobody knows. I’ve never had a hard number,” D’Antoni said. “You kind of play them and say, ‘How do you feel, are you tired at all?’ You want to be cautious and we thought we were. He said he made movement and he tweaked it. He has some pain. I don’t know if it was a product of the minutes or just the physicality of it happening. It didn’t seem like a lot of minutes, but we’ll definitely watch it.”
D’Antoni announced two weeks ago that Nash would sit out the rest of the season both because of his health and so the Lakers could evaluate young prospects Kendall Marshall and Jordan Farmar. But Farmar strained his right groin last week, leaving Marshall as the team’s lone traditional point guard.
Nash has played in only 11 games this season, averaging 7.4 points on 36.7 percent shooting and 5.3 assists in 22.2 minutes. The Lakers also have remained decimated at the backcourt position elsewhere. Kobe Bryant played only six games before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Farmar has sat out a combined 32 games because of hamstring and groin issues. Steve Blake missed 36 games because of a hyperextended right elbow before the Lakers traded him last month to the Golden State Warriors for Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks. Xavier Henry will also sit out tonight because of a torn ligament in his left wrist. Henry plans to see a hand specialist on Monday, but he told D’Antoni he can play Tuesday against New York.
The depleting backcourt leaves the Lakers likely to use Bazemore and Jodie Meeks sharing ball handling duties behind Marshall.
“That’s probably one of the reasons why it’s hard to get traction,” D’Antoni said. “You lose the heart and soul of your team, it also affects other players. The league is dominated by really good point guards. You got to have them.”
Meanwhile, the Lakers will field their 32nd starting lineup that will feature Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson, Meeks and Marshall. Hill posted nine points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in the Lakers’ loss to Washington in his first appearance since missing the past 10 games with a hyperextended right knee. Johnson returns to the lineup after sitting out against Washington with an upper respiratory infection.