Steve Nash out against Thunder
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers expressed hope this week that they could come out of the All-Star break with some healthy players' returns on the horizon.
Instead, they couldn't even make it to the weekend without a few more injuries to the roster.
Steve Nash said he will not play against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday because of nerve irritation in his back and hamstrings stemming from a collision to his left leg with Chicago's Kirk Hinrich on Sunday.
"It's just a little irritation and a flare up, that's it," said Nash, who felt sore Wednesday and added that his latest setback was not the result of any specific play in Tuesday's 96-79 loss to the Utah Jazz. "I don't have much more to say about it."
Nash did not participate in any on-court drills as the Lakers were unable to hold a proper practice with just eight players available, limiting their day's work to a film session and voluntary shooting drills. Nash, the oldest active player in the league having just turned 40 last week, was asked about Lakers fans calling for him to retire. He is under contract for next season for $9.7 million.
"I'm kind of oblivious to the noise," Nash said. "I think after 18 years, you're not really as affected by it anyways. I didn't pound my chest when people told me I was great for a long time in my career and I'm not going to let it affect me when people think that I should look at myself in the mirror."
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni, who first coached Nash a decade ago when they were both in Phoenix, said the former two-time MVP should be appreciated for his continued dedication.
"I think sometimes we sit around and talk about, 'Well, what kind of legacy (does a player have)?' You know what? He's a great player," D'Antoni said. "One of the best ever and he should be really proud of what he's done and he just keeps trying to do it and you got to admire that. And one day it will be over. You don't know when that is, but he just keeps trying to battle. Celebrate what somebody has inside his heart instead of worrying about image. It drives me crazy."
One of the supposed marks on Nash's image is the lack of a title, putting him in a category with the likes of Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton, Karl Malone and Reggie Miller as all-time greats who never won it all.
Many thought that coming to the Lakers would give him a chance to check off a championship on his list.
"Life rarely goes as planned," Nash said. "I didn't think it was a guarantee of anything out here."
Regardless of what happens in the future, for the time being, Nash is officially being listed as day to day by the Lakers. Xavier Henry has a much longer timetable, according to the team.
Henry, sidelined with a bone bruise in his right knee since Dec. 29, had the knee drained Wednesday and received a cortisone shot that will keep him out at least another four weeks, per a Lakers spokesman.
"Just, it doesn't get any better," D'Antoni said. "I hate it for him, because he's trying to establish himself and was having a good year, but hopefully there will be enough games left when he comes back."
Henry, a four-year veteran who will become a free agent this summer, is averaging 10.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game this season. If he returns in a month, March 13 at Oklahoma City, he could potentially play in 18 more games this season.
In other injury news, Steve Blake, who suffered a hyperextended right elbow against Utah, will play against the Thunder.
"His elbow is what it is and he has to try to feel more comfortable with his shot," D'Antoni said of Blake, who shot just 2 for 11 against the Jazz after tweaking his elbow injury that had kept him out of the lineup for more than a month while trying to fight through a screen in the third quarter.
Blake said while he would be justified to sit out, he plans to continue to play through the injury with his team so depleted.
"For me, unless if I was to get it checked out again and they tell me something major is wrong, I'll just push through it," Blake said. "Individually, could I be selfish and sit out because I don't want to have a bad shooting percentage? I guess I could do that, but that's not the type of person I am. I just want to help the team out and try to get some wins."