|ESPN.com: NBA||[Print without images]|
LOS ANGELES -- Steve Nash exited the Los Angeles Lakers' 113-90 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves early on Sunday night because of back pain and will visit Dr. Robert Watkins, a back specialist, on Monday for evaluation.
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni pulled Nash from the game with 1:42 remaining in the second quarter and the point guard did not return, finishing with two points and three assists in 13 minutes.
"It's tough," Nash said after the game. "I hesitate to even talk about it now because it's probably not a good time. I'm a little emotional. It's hard. I really want to play and I really want to play the way I am accustomed to playing.
"To be so limited is frustrating and also to not know where kind of a clean-ish bill of health is [coming from] is a little daunting, too."
D'Antoni, who began coaching Nash in the 2003-04 season with the Phoenix Suns, said he was trying to spare his longtime point guard.
"I'm concerned," D'Antoni said. "He was struggling physically tonight. You could just see it on his face. That's why I took him out and we shut him down, more or less. He was struggling."
The 39-year-old Nash entered the contest averaging 7.6 points and 5.2 assists this season while shooting 27.6 percent from the field. He played in just six of the Lakers' first eight games, sitting out both times during the second night of a back-to-back in a plan devised by D'Antoni in hopes of preserving the 18-year veteran for the long haul.
The two-time league MVP told reporters last week he is still struggling with nerve issues stemming from the broken left leg he suffered last season that caused him to miss 32 games.
"I still feel that almost every day all over," Nash said of the nerve discomfort. "It's not just in that spot [in his left leg]. It's like the nerve system and nerve roots are on guard. So the whole system in a way is different now. It's just a little more sensitive, and you face different things because of it. So, freaky, freaky thing, but I can't complain. I'm still playing basketball and I'm still effective and I can get better physically and my game will come around the more I play."
Nash detailed his injuries after the game Sunday.
"I have, obviously, back issues," Nash said. "It's nerves coming from my back. You could call it the back, you could call it the nerves. I'm getting the pain in the hamstring. … It's basically the same thing from the end of last year."
Nash missed the Lakers' final two playoff games in the first round against the San Antonio Spurs last season, unable to play despite receiving three epidural injections in his right hamstring in the span of a week to try to get back on the court.
"I'm trying to play through it but at the same time be smart and try to overcome what I can and see," said Nash, who added that the same issues had been bothering him for the last several weeks. "But it's taken a bit of a turn for the worse."
During the preseason, D'Antoni warned that injuries could play a factor for Nash all season.
"I think this will happen off and on all year, but he's going to give you a good season and good stuff," D'Antoni said. "We have to take care of him."
Nash said the injuries began to render him ineffective.
"The pain is always there," Nash said. "It's not as much of a concern, it's just when you're so limited and you're limping and you're trying to get off your left leg the whole time, then you just can't be effective. You're making it worse. So, I tried to play through it, but to what? Diminishing returns."
The Lakers started Jodie Meeks in the backcourt in place of Nash in the second half against Minnesota.