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Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Steve Nash frustrated with season

By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Steve Nash was back at the Rose Garden on Wednesday, the site of the collision that broke his left leg in the Los Angeles Lakers' second game of the season, sidelining him for nearly two months.

Only this time around, he was dealing with a right hip and hamstring injury that kept him out of the game against the Portland Trail Blazers and caused him to miss all or part of the Lakers' past six games before it.

Seeing Nash make his way to the training room for treatment before the game rather than head to the court for a crucial matchup as the Lakers fight for a playoff spot begged the question: Has this been the most frustrating season of his career?

"Right up there, if not the most frustrating," said Nash, a 17-year veteran. "I've played a long time, so I can't remember all those years, but it's frustrating. Maybe it's because of the freshness, but it feels the most frustrating for sure."

Nash, who hurt his hip March 25 at Golden State and has suffered discomfort in his hamstring stemming from the injury ever since, said he is improving but added, "There's still a question for Friday."

The Lakers host the Warriors on Friday in a game that will be crucial, both for the Lakers' playoff hopes and Golden State's playoff seeding.

"It's definitely getting better every day," Nash said. "It's definitely getting better but I'm not free to do everything yet, but I'm getting closer."

Nash recently switched to a stronger medication in hopes of alleviating the pain in his hamstring, a source close to the point guard told ESPNLosAngeles.com.

"It feels like when you go to use it, it grabs," Nash said of his hamstring. "You let up because you feel like you're going to tear it."

Even if Nash is able to play in the Lakers' final three games, he already has missed more games this season (29) than he has in any other previous season since being drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1996. The most games he missed previously was 26 in 1999-2000 as a member of the Dallas Mavericks.

"For me, I always just try to keep my head down and keep pushing and fight and try to get better to help the team," Nash said. "I feel like that allowed me to come out of the seven weeks (following the left leg injury) and play after two practices, which is not easy, but it was because of the hard work.

"When things weren't going well with the team, I just tried to work and try to get better and we got a little better there through February and March and now I'm back struggling and just fighting to get better again."

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni, who also coached Nash in Phoenix, can sense how trying this season has been for the future Hall of Famer.

"I'm sure there's a whole locker room full of frustration," said D'Antoni, who added Nash would "try to shoot" for Friday but the team would wait for him to get back to 100 percent.

"We should be a lot better than we are and he's been injured more than probably his whole career. It happens, but he'll keep working. He'll be back pretty soon. Hopefully, we get in the playoffs and have a good run and he can turn that frustration into something good."

Nash is averaging his least assists per game (6.7) since 1999-2000 with Dallas, when he averaged 4.9 as a part-time starter.

"In Phoenix, when we had it going, I don't know if there's many point guards in the history of the game that played that level as good as he played for a couple of years where he didn't make any mistakes and (he is) one of the best shooters, if not the best shooter, in all-time history, so it's hard to duplicate that," D'Antoni said. "As you get older, obviously, you have to have certain things go your way and you're not going to be able to be the MVP two times in a row like he was, but his level is still very high. We just got to get everything right, get him going again."

Nash knows a lot must go right between now and the end of the playoffs for the Lakers to even scratch the surface of what was expected of them this season.

"If no one expected anything coming into the season, then you might have said, 'Tough luck, tough year,' " Nash said. "But, couple that with the fact that this isn't what we drew up makes it very difficult."