Steve Nash will be sidelined at least a week after being diagnosed Saturday with a non-displaced fracture in his left leg, the latest setback in a quickly deteriorating season for the Lakers.
The veteran point guard will miss at least three more games after already sitting out the Lakers’ 105-95 loss to the Clippers on Friday that dropped the Lakers to 0-3 for the first time in 34 years.
The Lakers have not gone 0-4 to start a season since 1957, when they were still playing in Minneapolis and opened with seven consecutive losses.
They have not lost their first three home games in a season since 1959 and hope to keep it that way with a victory over the winless Detroit Pistons on Sunday at Staples Center.
Nash’s injury was initially diagnosed as a bruised shin after he was kneed in the area Wednesday during the second quarter against Portland. An MRI exam three days later revealed the injury was more serious than first suspected.
Nash, 38, had been sturdy in recent years despite his age. He has sat out an average of 4.3 games a season since 2005 but could miss more games than that before his first season with the Lakers is two weeks old.
Steve Blake probably will continue to start in Nash’s absence, with Darius Morris and Chris Duhon serving as the backups. Nash had seven points and four assists in the opener, his only full game as a Laker.
Nothing has gone as planned for the Lakers in the season’s early going.
They were supposed to become an instant juggernaut after adding Nash and center Dwight Howard over the summer but instead went into immediate free fall.
Their new Princeton offense was flat in an opening loss to Dallas, their defense failed them against Portland and they were less than successful on both sides of the ball against the Clippers.
“We’ve just got to continue to get better,” Howard said Friday after taking only seven shots and scoring 13 points against the Clippers. “We’ve just got to keep playing.”
At this rate, that would mean they would keep losing.
All told, the Lakers have lost their last 13 games including the preseason and the final two games of their Western Conference semifinal series against Oklahoma City.
Slow starter No one is feeling the need to succeed more than Lakers Coach Mike Brown, who has been roundly criticized for his team’s shortcomings.
“I’m not trying to fool anybody here,” Brown said. “We do need a win.”
Victories have traditionally been hard to come by early in the season for Brown’s teams. On the plus side, they’ve always managed to recover and at least make the playoffs.
The Lakers dropped their first two games last season, Brown’s first with the team, and went on to the second round of the playoffs.
The Cleveland Cavaliers started 0-2 in 2009-10, Brown’s last season with the team, and made it to the Eastern Conference semifinals. When they went to the Finals the previous season, they had dropped two of their first three games.
Brown’s other Cavaliers teams also rebounded from humble beginnings, starting 2-3 in 2007-08 (before winning seven of their next 11 games), 2-2 in 2006-07 (before winning their next five games) and 1-2 in 2005-06 (before winning their next eight games).
The Lakers hope having Saturday off after seven consecutive days of either playing or practicing can help them get back on their feet.
“I think it’s the energy,” forward Metta World Peace said when asked about the Lakers’ lackluster defense. “You can play as hard as you want, you don’t even have to be an athlete to know that when you get tired you stop; your body can only take so much.”