Point guard problems persist for Lakers

March, 23, 2014
Mar 23
12:43
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- On Friday, everything seemed back in order for Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni. Steve Nash was back on the court, running D'Antoni's offense that the two-time league MVP has more than of a decade of experience in orchestrating. Nash picked up 11 assists in 19 minutes, and while the Lakers still lost by 10 to the Washington Wizards, the team had a rhythm to its game that had been lacking in recent weeks.

Two days later, with Nash "doubtful" to play against the Orlando Magic on Sunday, according to D'Antoni, because of a tweaked right hamstring and nerve root irritation. Also, Xavier Henry, who had been providing a penetrator at backup point guard, is out because of a torn ligament in his left wrist.

"Two came back and two left," D'Antoni said, ruefully, of Nash and Henry after shootaround Sunday.

That leaves the Lakers back to one healthy point guard in Kendall Marshall, as a shooting guard in Jodie Meeks and a wing player in Kent Bazemore will be relied upon to handle the backup duties.

"Just figure it out. They’ll have to make plays. Got to share the ball. They’ll run our plays," D'Antoni said. "It won’t be a traditional point guard but that’s no reason why we can’t be good at it."

D'Antoni was trying to make the most of a bad hand, what other choice does he have? In actuality, he knows just how much the point guard position has shot his team in the foot this season.

"That’s probably one of the reasons why it’s hard to get traction, because they’re the heart and soul of your team and they’re kind of doing what you wanted to be done (on the court)," D'Antoni said. "We’ve never really had that from Steve Blake, first getting hurt then leaving, and then X (Henry) trying to fill in, Kobe (Bryant) not being there, Steve Nash not being there all year. So that’s probably been the hardest, most difficult thing.

"And it also affects the other players, their psyche and how they feel. It’s tough without a point guard."

If Nash sits against the Magic, it will be his 58th missed-game this season. It will be Henry's 29th. Before Blake was traded to the Golden State Warriors, he missed 26 games with an elbow injury. Sunday will mark Bryant's 63rd game missed, a number that will rise to 76 by the season's end as he's already been ruled out until 2014-15. And let's not forget Jordan Farmar, who has already missed 32 games and will be out for at least another week with a strained right groin.

The Lakers would be totally rudderless if not for Marshall, called up from the D-League in December and averaging 8.4 points and 9.2 assists on the season. But as solid of a pick-up as Marshall has proved to be, his game has its problems, evidenced by his scoring average dipping to 5.0 points on 31.3 percent shooting in his last 10 games.

"The league is dominated by really good point guards," D'Antoni said. "You got to have one."

The Lakers have had none for the bulk of the season. It shouldn't be surprising the predicament they find themselves in.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0