- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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Nash experienced discomfort in his right hip after the Lakers' loss to the Golden State Warriors on March 25, and he since has been dealing with the strained hip and a strained right hamstring.
Nash was able to play in the Lakers' game against Minnesota on March 27, but he then missed most of the second half against Milwaukee, played just two minutes against Sacramento and sat out the entire game against Dallas.
Nash went through some light shooting drills after practice Thursday with Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy.
If Nash cannot play Friday night, the Lakers again will look to Steve Blake to start at point guard. Blake is averaging 13 points and 3.5 rebounds in his past two games while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 53.3 percent from 3-point range.
"I've just been trying to watch [Nash] play and learn from him from the very beginning," Blake said. "Just seeing how he executes plays in pick-and-rolls. When he was hurt I tried to do my part, when I was hurt he was doing his thing. We've kind of been there at the point guard spot helping each other the whole way."
Los Angeles leads Utah by one half-game for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West with seven games remaining.
"I don't think it's draining, I think it's exhilarating," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I think it's what you play for. We should be sharper coming out of this, we should be ready to roll coming out of this. So, I think it's great.
"You don't have to make decisions like, 'Should we rest somebody? We don't rest somebody?' to get out of whack. We still got some work to do and improving to do, and mentally, we should be sharp."
D'Antoni has tried to avoid expending too much mental energy on scoreboard watching, however. He purposely avoided Wednesday's game between the Jazz and Denver Nuggets.
"I didn't watch it," D'Antoni said. "I am not going to spoil my afternoon trying to get all geeked up about something that I can't control. So, I did not watch that, but I knew what happened. I can't waste my adrenaline on that game."
Denver beat Utah 113-96, meaning if the Lakers win out, they will be in the playoffs no matter what the Jazz do the rest of the way.
"We put ourselves in a position where we can control what we do," D'Antoni said. "So, that's great."
Added Pau Gasol: "We're fighting for our life, fighting to get in. We're fighting to get the 8-spot and every game is crucial, so it's pretty much like the playoffs."
8dEthan Sherwood Strauss