Nash aiming to play Christmas Day

Gasol is looking to return on Tuesday as Nash aims to come back Christmas Day.

Steve Nash, who participated in a light, noncontact practice, is aiming to play in the Lakers' Christmas Day game against the New York Knicks, which would mean another two games without the veteran point guard.  The Lakers lost Nash when he suffered a broken bone in his left leg in the second game of the season against the Portland Trail Blazers. He has missed 23 games.

"I'm feeling well. I'm happy with the practice that I did today and how I felt," Gasol said. "We don't want to make the decision quite yet today, so we'll see tomorrow in the morning how I feel and decide then."

The Lakers went 3-5 without Gasol. With injuries to Steve Blake (abdominal surgery), Jordan Hill (back), Nash and Gasol, along with a coaching change, the Lakers have struggled to an 11-14 record.

With reinforcements finally on the way, the Lakers are still just three games behind the sixth-place Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference.

Barring major slides from teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors and Clippers, the Lakers may have a difficult time climbing into the top four by the end of the regular season.

The return of two starters should certainly result in improved play, once Gasol and Nash get their conditioning back in full.

-Eric Pincus

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