By Ben Golliver
Lakers point guard Steve Nash will not play Tuesday against the Mavericks in Los Angeles because of a hamstring strain and hip injury, the team announced. Steve Blake will start in his place.
Nash played just two minutes in Saturday's victory at Sacramento before departing with the injuries. The Lakers next play on Friday against the Grizzlies in Los Angeles.
Dallas' visit is a key game in the tight race for the Western Conference's No. 8 seed. The Lakers are 38-36, a half-game behind the 39-36 Jazz for the final playoff spot. The 36-37 Mavs, in the No. 10 position, can pull within a half-game of the Lakers with a win Tuesday. Utah owns the tiebreaker over the Lakers and Mavs.
The Lakers have just eight games remaining to move into the No. 8 seed. Otherwise, they will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2005 and just the third time since 1977. Nash, 39, is averaging 12.7 points and 6.7 assists after arriving in a sign-and-trade from the Suns last summer. He missed 24 games earlier this season after suffering a leg injury in October.