D'Antoni: Lakers best with Nash on the floor
Mike D'Antoni said the Lakers needs even a hobbled Steve Nash to pull off the upset in their first round series.
SAN ANTONIO -- Steve Nash said his performance in the Los Angeles Lakers' 91-79 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 wasn't up to the standards he's set for himself as a two-time league MVP, but coach Mike D'Antoni said L.A. needs even a hobbled Nash to pull off the upset in their first-round series.
"He gives us that threat on the floor that's good and I think he'll get better as his leg gets better," D'Antoni said Monday after the Lakers' practice. "We're not going to do it without him. He'll battle through some injuries that he has, but he'll be ready to go Wednesday [for Game 2]."
Nash, who played Sunday for the first time in nine games as he continues to recover from nerve damage in his right hamstring caused by a right hip injury, admitted he was experiencing a "fair amount" of soreness but was able to fully participate in the Lakers' light practice nonetheless.
"I'm not worried about the soreness," Nash said. "It just is what it is. I'm going to have to fight through some soreness and some pain and I'm not going to be able to move as well as I would like, but I'm going to have to make the most of it and do what I can to help."
Despite the rust, Nash tied Pau Gasol for the second-most points by any Laker in Game 1, scoring 16 points on 6-for-15 shooting, and had three assists and one turnover. The Lakers were plus-2 in the 30 minutes Nash played.
Nash missed the only 3-pointer he attempted, contributing to the Lakers' 3-for-15 mark from deep (20 percent), but D'Antoni said Nash's shooting touch should return and help take the pressure off Gasol and Dwight Howard down low by opening up the floor.
Nash said he didn't "feel like myself" Sunday and added Monday he was not "moving like normal," but expects to improve as he continues to recover.
"I think some of the shots I got if I was moving well were good looks for me," Nash said. "I tried to just make some points for the team, create some offense, distribute, lead and try to defend my guy and help the team."
Gasol said Nash would be sitting out if it were still the regular season.
"He's fighting through something that probably would have kept him out longer if it wasn't the playoffs," Gasol said. "I think it's something that we're happy to have him back with us. I think he played really well, considering. He's just fighting through it."
Nash doesn't envision his hip and hamstring being a "long-term problem" that would require further invasive treatment in the offseason. The veteran point guard already received two epidurals last week to try to alleviate the pain, which Nash called a "strong and kind of final procedure."
"We've been through so much, you want to kind of overcome it now, and to not be 100 percent, or not to be NBA 100 percent, which is somewhere above 80, is frustrating," Nash said.
Nash has sat out 32 games this season because of various injuries, more than he missed in any other previous season since being drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1996. The most games he missed previously was 26 in 1999-2000 as a member of the Mavericks.
However, the 39-year-old -- who has two years and $19.5 million remaining on his contract -- said retiring has not crossed his mind.
"Not even close," Nash said. "When I was healthy this year, I felt really good. I think still, for the amount of opportunities I got on this team, I think still I was just as efficient as I've always been."
Indeed, Nash narrowly missed the fifth 50-40-90 season of his career, shooting 49.7 percent from the field, 43.8 percent on 3-pointers and 92.2 percent from the foul line during the regular season.
Nash believes the Lakers still have a chance to beat the Spurs, despite their 0-1 series deficit, and wants to contribute to overcoming the challenge.
"I love to play and I love this team," Nash said. "I want to fight for these guys and be a part of this team having some happy times. We've had a lot of down days and we've stuck with it. . . . We've had a lot of ups and downs and a lot of tough nights, so I want to turn that around and be a part of helping these guys enjoy this."
Nash isn't the only member of the Lakers' backcourt who is banged up. Jodie Meeks suffered a mild sprain of his left ankle in Game 1. He did not practice Monday, but is expected to be available for Game 2.
"He should be ready Wednesday," D'Antoni said of Meeks. "He's doing treatments today, but he should be ready also [along with Nash]."
Meeks had four points on 1-for-4 shooting in 20 minutes in Game 1, along with two turnovers.
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