Nash provides new hurdle in season of injuries

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Good news, Laker fans — Steve Nash may not be out for four weeks as had been reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Then again, maybe he will.

Nursing a fractured left leg, Nash was unavailable to reporters after Monday’s practice, but head coach Mike Brown — the team’s designated injury spokesman — shed little light on the matter.

Basically using the same phraseology he did when Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant were missing exhibition games, Brown said that Nash is still day to day as far as he knows — Nash was originally thought to be out one week — and nothing he’s been told is any different. Nash will just keep getting treatment, and when the team’s medical staff tells him the point guard is ready to play, Brown will put him back in the lineup.

Pau Gasol, who’s averaging 15.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 blocks per game this season, was a little more forthcoming when asked about the the injuries are affecting the Lakers’ ability to come together.

“It hurts us a little, yes,” Gasol said. “Injuries happen all the time and every team goes through them. Unfortunately for us, it happened when we added new players and we’re learning a new offense, so it’s definitely slowing our progress down.”

Is it anything Laker fans should be concerned about for the long haul?

“I don’t think so,” Gasol said, shaking his head. “What we have to concentrate on is playing the best we can while guys are out or hurting, and when they get back we will start to come together as a team. As we get toward the end of the season, we should be rolling really well by then and I think you’ll see a very good basketball team.”

The Lakers picked up their first win of the season Sunday night, with Steve Blake starting in place of Nash. Blake had a nice game in L.A.’s 108-79 win over the Detroit Pistons — 6 points, 6 assists, 5 steals and just 2 turnovers in 30 minutes of play. Blake can’t score or dish like Nash, but he’s a capable backup and can run a team for a month if he has to. The biggest problem Blake’s elevation to starting point guard is that it weakens an already shoddy bench.

Second-year player Darius Morris is now Blake’s backup, with Brown choosing to skip over the veteran Chris Duhon. And Devin Ebanks is now Bryant’s primary relief—he was 0-6 with 2 points, while an experienced shooting guard like Jodie Meeks got just four minutes in the rout of the Pistons, as did Duhon.

What becomes crucial now is the play of Antawn Jamison. His Laker teammates don’t seem worried about him: “This is a guy who’s averaged 20 points (19.5) a game over 14 years. That’s a great player,” said Metta World Peace. “He’ll do fine for us. No doubt.” The numbers, though, say otherwise.

In four games, Jamison has scored a TOTAL of 17 points, while shooting at a .417 clip. As a scorer he’s been a pretty good rebounder—grabbing 16 in the four games. Which is one less that his scoring total. Jamison needs to triple his scoring output beginning Wednesday night at Utah so the Lakers can begin to survive the time without Nash. Whether it’s a week or a month.