The Los Angeles Lakers are still beat up. But their general health is improving.
Guards Steve Nash and Steve Blake will return to the lineup for the Lakers when they play the Wolves tonight at Target Center.
Nash, who will turn 40 later this week, will be brought back slowly. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said Nash will play the first 5 to 8 minutes of the first half, sit, then return to play the first 5 to 8 minutes of the second half as he works to come back from nerve damage in his back that has kept him out of action since Nov. 10.
“We’ll see how the game goes,” D’Antoni said. “Maybe he plays more, depending on how he feels. But I would say 15-20 to start with.
D’Antoni said Blake, who has been out since Dec. 10 with an elbow injury, is not on a time limit.
Initially Nash will not play in the second half of back-to-back games, which means he will miss the Lakers' game against Cleveland Wednesday.
The Lakers’ starting lineup will be Nash, Blake, Jodie Meeks, Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly.
For Nash, there was legitimate concern that might not play again.
“I’m just happy to get a chance to play again, and hopefully get a little bit of conditioning and rhythm in a game and clawing my way back to where I can have an impact.”
Meanwhile, guard Steve Farmar, out since Dec. 31 with a hamstring tear, will dress tonight. It’s likely he will not play, but the possibility remains. It’s more likely Farmar will play Wednesday in place of Nash.
--For Wolves guard Ricky Rubio, it will be another opportunity to play against – and perhaps learn from – Nash, a player he said he admires.
“Steve Nash is one of the best ever,” Rubio said. “When he was in Phoenix, I think his pick-and-roll with (Amar’e) Stoudemire was one of the best ever. And to be able to knock down good shots close to the basket, and his floater with one leg? It’s something that I wish I could have and things like that to get as [good] as I can [be].’’
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you before the game.