Steve Nash in action for Lakers

Updated: March 22, 2014, 1:38 AM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Just when he thought he was out, the Lakers pulled Steve Nash back in.

Nash, who previously was ruled out for the rest of the season because of nerve root irritation, returned in Friday's 117-107 loss to the Washington Wizards.

"I'm excited," Nash said after shootaround Friday, before scoring five points while dishing out 11 assists in 19 minutes. "Unfortunately I don't really know where I am because I haven't really been up and down or played or scrimmaged in five weeks, but I've tried to keep myself afloat in case the opportunity came up. I'm just going to try to get through it the best I can, contribute and not get hurt."

The Lakers were down to one healthy point guard in Kendall Marshall after Jordan Farmar suffered a right groin strain at practice Monday that will keep him out a minimum of two weeks.

"[Nash] said he feels good and he wants to try it," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "The biggest reason before, a big reason, was I didn't know if he could play or not. He tried, and couldn't play. But we also wanted to give time to Farmar and Kendall and make sure they got a good run."

Nash went through a non-contact practice with the team Thursday. It was his first team session since he left the Lakers' 96-79 loss to the Jazz on Feb. 11 at halftime because of discomfort stemming from a collision to his left leg with Chicago's Kirk Hinrich the previous game and did not return.

Nash has started 1,052 of his 1,212 career games and hasn't come off the bench since the 1999-2000 season, but he will be backing up Marshall against the Wizards.

"I don't know how much I'll play, but I'm available and if I can just help out of the bullpen, it will be fun for me," Nash said. "Hopefully I can just help a little bit."

D'Antoni said he envisioned playing Nash in the 10-12 minute range against Washington. Nash has averaged 7.6 points (31.6 percent shooting) and 4.7 assists in 22.5 minutes over 10 games this season.

Nash, 40, is the oldest player in the league and has one year remaining on this contract, set to pay him $9.7 million. Nash said in "The Finish Line" documentary series with ESPN's Grantland.com that the money is obviously a motivating factor to play in 2014-15, which would be the 19th season of his career.

"I think anyone who has some sort of critical thinking ability looks at the situation and goes, 'Who wouldn't?'" Nash said. "It is a contract and we fight [as a player's union] every 5-6-7-8 years to hold on to guaranteed contracts in our business. I came in here with the highest of hopes, broke my leg playing here and I think people respect the fact that that's honest and anyone who says they wouldn't do that probably is not trustworthy."

D'Antoni said the remainder of the Lakers' schedule will serve as a testing ground for Nash to determine how to approach next season.

"It will be a good 15 games to see if he wants to continue," D'Antoni said. "The biggest thing, he can understand what he wants to do this summer, what he needs to do for the future. This will help. It might not be a definitive answer, but at least we'll see if he can get through some games and see if he's healthy enough to play."

ESPNLA 710 Radio's Beto Duran contributed to this report.

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