By Ben Golliver
Monday, incredibly, will mark forty days since Lakers guard Steve Nash suffered a "small non-displaced fracture in the head of his fibula" in his left leg after banging into Blazers guard Damian Lillard on Halloween. After weeks of trickling health updates and shifting deadlines, Nash's return to the court might finally be imminent.
Lakers.com reported Sunday that Nash could play for the first time under new coach Mike D'Antoni sometime this week. While Nash won't suit up for a Sunday night home game against the Jazz, D'Antoni said that it's "possible" Nash returns during an upcoming four-game road trip which includes stops in Cleveland, New York, Washington and Philadelphia.
“I think it’s possible,” said the coach. “I wouldn’t put my reputation on it, but, it’s possible.”
The veteran has been ramping up work outs with Lakers strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco of late, much to DiFrancesco’s liking.
“I’m really excited with the progress that he’s feeling and I’m seeing at this point, in certain lower body based exercises that even a week ago were not possible,” said DiFrancesco. “I finally feel like we’re seeing some beams of light at the end of this tunnel, and that’s exciting. Nobody has been more frustrated or wanted to be back on that court than him.”
The Lakers, in third place in the Pacific Division with a 9-11 record entering Sunday, have struggled in Nash's absence. Reserve point guard Steve Blake has also been sidelined following abdominal surgery, forcing D'Antoni to turn to Chris Duhon and Darius Morris. Big man Pau Gasol has also missed time with tendinitis in his knees. Nash, 38, will miss his 19th consecutive game on Sunday. This stretch marks the first time Nash has missed more than 10 games in a season since 2000-01.