By Ben Golliver
Mike Brown admitted after a Friday night loss to the Clippers that his 0-3 Lakers badly need a win. For now, Kobe Bryant and company will have to pursue that elusive first W without starting point guard Steve Nash.
The Lakers announced Saturday that an MRI revealed that Nash suffered a "small non-displaced fracture in the head of his fibula" in his left leg and will miss at least a week before being re-examined. Nash suffered the lower leg injury, originally called a contusion, during a Wednesday night loss to the Trail Blazers in Portland. Blazers guard Damian Lillard inadvertently collided with Nash while attempting to get open for an outlet pass in the backcourt. Nash did not play against the Clippers on Friday.
Update (Sunday): The Los Angeles Times reported Nash could be sidelined up to four weeks with the injury.
Assuming that Nash misses exactly one week, he will be sidelined for the Lakers' next three games. L.A. faces the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, the Utah Jazz on Wednesday and the Golden State Warriors on Friday. If Nash indeed misses four weeks, he would be sidelined for all 13 of L.A.'s games in November.
Nash, 38, was acquired by the Lakers in a summer sign-and-trade with the Suns in exchange for two first-round picks, two second-round picks and cash considerations. Nash signed a three-year contract worth $27 million as part of the agreement.
Through two games, Nash was averaging just 4.5 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 25 minutes per game. Brown's Princeton offense was coming under fire, in part, because it wasn't effectively using Nash's elite-playmaking, pick-and-roll and shooting abilities. Without the two-time MVP and eight-time All-Star, Brown will start reserve Steve Blake and use Darius Morris and Chris Duhon behind him. To say that going from Nash to Blake is a "downgrade" would be an understatement. Blake, 32, is a somewhat serviceable veteran with a very limited offense game; he is a low-risk, low-reward player content to move the ball around safely and shoot only if wide open.
Although one of the league's oldest players, Nash has been remarkably durable in recent years. He appeared in 62 of Phoenix's 66 games last season and has missed just 41 games combined over the last 11 seasons. Bryant is also battling a foot sprain that sidelined him for two games during the preseason.