Nash Battles Back Pain, Embraces Role

a

DALLAS – The last thing the old-and-slow Lakers (Kobe’s words, not mine) need is more bad injury news. Yet there was Steve Nash sitting straight as a light pole in his locker room chair, his back stiffening up, after scoring 20 points Sunday afternoon to grab a big win over the Mavericks.

Nash played through considerable pain for a second straight game due to a lingering back ailment that he says isn’t related to the issues he’s endured for years that would force him to lay on his back on the baseline when he came out of games instead of sitting on the bench.

“This is different,” Nash said. “I don’t know if I made some kind of movement or if I got hit or something, but my vertebrae kind of locked up on me and the muscles therefore overcompensated so I had little spasms back there. I just don’t have that much freedom in there, but if I can get through one more [game], we have a softer week, so hopefully I can get through it. If I had a few days in between I think it would go away easily.”

Nash’s back will be put to the test tonight against speedy point guard Ty Lawson and the up-tempo Nuggets in Denver’s thin air. Then L.A. doesn’t play again until Thursday at home against Minnesota and then Sunday at home against Atlanta, so Nash catches a bit of a break there.

He hid his discomfort rather well Sunday after an awful shooting game Friday against Portland. Nash logged nearly 34 minutes and scored a season-high 20 points — 13 in the second half — and knocked down a season-best four 3-pointers on five attempts. His 25-foot swish with 1:44 to go put the Lakers up 99-95.

“He came out in the second half and really gave us a big boost. He was very aggressive offensively,” Kobe Bryant said. “It forced them defensively to make some changes to the coverages, which freed up a lot of the shooters. He’s big-time, extremely clutch and makes big plays, of course, off the pass, off the dribble and knocking down shots.”

Kobe also should have mentioned, off the ball.

Because that’s how Nash is playing much of the time this season with Bryant taking it upon himself to share ball-handling and facilitating duties.

“I still think I have more to give, but I have to embrace playing off the ball sometimes because we can’t play five different styles,” Nash said. “We’ve got to try to meld and conform and try to play together. I can’t be over there without the ball worried about having the ball, I have to try to be active and anticipate, be on the balls of my feet, a bounce in my step, bright eyes, and be ready to attack instead of worrying about, ‘this is uncomfortable, this isn’t the way I’ve played.’ That would be a detriment.”

Nash’s 7.2 apg is still good enough to rank him in the top 10 (although he doesn’t officially qualify having played just 33 games), yet he’s 3.5 assists below last season’s average in Phoenix. He’s finished seven of the last eight seasons with a double-digit assist average, and the one year he didn’t he averaged 9.7.

Nash had four assists Sunday, which was the sixth time this season he’s finished with four or fewer assists in a game. In 62 games last season, that happened twice.

He’s had five or fewer assists 10 times this season. That happened four times all of last season.

The strangeness of the Lakers’ collective season is certainly not lost on Nash, who, for one, never figured he’d ever wear a Lakers’ uniform. Then he fractured his leg in the second game of the season and unexpectedly missed two months. Then came Kobe’s facilitating mode that pushed Nash off the ball.

Now he’s dealing with a back issue at a most critical time when every game for the Lakers has an impact on their playoff chances.

“At this stage you just got to try not to think about it and play and try to help your team,” Nash said. “If you’re not much help, it’s up to the coach to decide. I’m just going to try to do what I can.”

18 Comments

  1. Eaglos says:

    An almost 40 years old battered veteran is having back pains? What a surprise :P
    Imagine if he hadn’t missed all those games at the start of the season….

    Lakers just don’t get it, do they?
    They are old, battered beyond return, with a bad coach, bad chemistry, no rhythm.
    Yes, they accomplished some heroic wins when their bench was on a good day but
    that’s about it and that is as far as they can get.

    You cannot build a team around battered veterans and you cannot expect them
    to be in the starting lineup. Denver made it crystal clear by exposing Lakers inability
    to run.

  2. Black Mama Worm 24 says:

    Kobe Ain’t afraid of OKC,SPURS, NUGGETS??? He didn’t mention the HEAT in that LIST…. And as of now the lakers are down 1-3 against Denver… The only team that they can BEAT are those below .500 Club… And they are still tide with POR,DAL in loss count… That means 9th spot are still for grabs… and yes lakers are still below .500 with just 24 games left…. Playoffs not a Question.. It’s Reality….. They won’t reach it….. uLOLs…

  3. googergieger says:

    Looks like I was right about the refs tonight. Denver had 78 points in the paint and Lakers still got more free throws! Almost every single call wen the Lakers way tonight. Worst officiated game I’ve ever seen in my life. Hope the league addresses it. They won’t. But I hope Karl isn’t afraid of getting fined.

    • dattebayo says:

      You just have to wonder, how much money the Lakers spend in this season because they for sure are paying the refs as well as their players and coaches. There were so many horrendous bad calls in the last 3 Laker games favoring the Lakers and it leaves you dumbfounded as a basketball fan. If the refs would have called the last 3 games fairly, the Lakers would be on a 3 game losing streak…

  4. BIG MAN 7 FOOT 2 says:

    please now now no more negative comments about the best PURE point guard in nba history

  5. Patty says:

    NASH IS 39 YEARS OLD. NASH IS LIMTED TO WHAT HE CAN DO.

  6. Dumb Mamba says:

    If Lakers can pull off a win tonight I may consider then to make the playoffs…but I already bet against them and know they aren’t going to win. Yes I’m physic.

  7. Fabian Jennings says:

    Nash talks about embracing a new role – Bryant pushing him off the ball. Seems to be working. Give Nash credit for going with it given it apparently wasn’t a plan, but just got imposed on him. Long term, does it really make sense, or is it just Kobe feeling he’s gotta star somehow, and shooting wasn’t doing it? Well, we’ll see. I’m hoping for the best.

  8. TakeMeOutDumbToni says:

    you guys are right , sorry for the coment … huh im an idiot

  9. Nash fan says:

    Let’s go Steve! GO LAKERS! Beat DENVER!! I hope everyone gets a good game tonight and hope Steve’s back does not give him any major problems!! Let’s make the Playoffs LAKERS! oh and to the guy that commented first….. yeah if you get Steve and co. to pack up Lakers will be @ the bottom! We just all need to get together folks! stop panicking lol

  10. Real Speak says:

    Yeah they’ve had a tough year but they’re battling back into it. They’ve had less than a season to play together, that’s ignorant to want to blow them up in light of their struggles. Lakers fans are so spoiled and impatient

    • Lakersss says:

      Please do not put this fool together with the rest of the Lakers fans.

    • TheStarMiddleschooler says:

      All Celtic fans and Laker fans and also the one and only CHICAGO FANS are all arrogant…Their teams have been good for so long and when 1 thing goes wrong it all goes downhill…. I will say Chicago fans are chilling down and I can respect them now

    • Hm says:

      Other teams have reloaded rosters and aren’t doing bad at all. The Clippers had a 17-game winning streak with a completely new bench. Chicago also has a lot of new players, yet they’re STILL one of the best defensive teams in the league. Just to name a few.

  11. wynton says:

    hey dude dont speak nonsense. you are not helping

  12. TakeMeOutDumbToni says:

    before it was nash then howard then gasol then nash again…better pack your bags if you’re done with all your injuries..lakers will live even without you guys..your just ruining the team.mgnt better fly out these players after the season.and the coach too.