Nash moves closer to return to Lakers lineup

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Since breaking his leg on Halloween night in Portland, there have been very few treats for Laker point guard Steve Nash. That deprivation may have ended Monday, as Nash was reportedly able to do more than just ride an elliptical for 12 minutes and do upper-body workouts.

Under the supervision of the team’s medical staff, he was able to get some work in on the basketball court. Nothing strenuous, but enough that the Lakers are waiting anxiously for Tuesday morning to see how the fracture in his left leg responds. 

Since the injury occurred, he hasn’t been able to put any kind of pressure on the leg without feeling substantial pain and immediately having to shut it down. Obviously, everyone involved with the Lakers is hoping that he wakes up pain-free and can move on to the next step of his rehab — full-blown basketball drills. 

Even with the apparent progress toward a return, head coach Mike D’Antoni is not expecting Nash back right away. 

“He’s getting better every day,” D’Antoni said. “We keep saying that, but he is. When he’s able to withstand some up and down (the court) he’ll play.” 

D’Antoni expects the team’s overall play to improve as soon as Nash is back in the lineup and that the team has done reasonably well at picking up the new offense without their point man. 

“We’ve been doing all of this without Steve,” he said. “He’s the engine that’s going to drive this all forward, so we’re going to have some bumps along the road. We just need everybody to go out and play through everything. We have to get through it. 

“I told him and I told Steve Blake that we have 68 games left, and I’d rather have them play 61 final games than playing six, missing 20 and playing the rest of them. It’s just important that they keep progressing and whether they’re ready next Friday, next Sunday, the rest of the time they’re ready to roll.”

Blake — Nash’s backup — is out with a strained abdominal muscle and will also miss Tuesday night’s game against Indiana at Staples Center.  

Despite being unable to play, Nash has — in the words of the wrestling legend Nature Boy Ric Flair — been stylin’ and profilin.’  While sitting on the team bench, Nash has been wearing crisp suits and a tight haircut, prompting Kobe Bryant to refer to Nash as “Gatsby” when talking to reporters. Jay Gatsby is the protagonist of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s legendary book, “The Great Gatsby.”

Nash — who once was known for hair flying all over the place and a non-flashy dressing style, has certainly picked up the L.A. lifestyle and run with it.

Or limped with it so far.