Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
Mike D'Antoni said Tuesday that Steve Nash is nearing a return to the court, although the Lakers coach wasn't willing to lock down a specific date.
"It's close," D'Antoni said. "A lot of it will be determined Thursday and Friday when he actually goes five-on-five and plays two hard practices and [team officials] see how he is. From there, he'll determine when he needs to go."
Nash suffered a non-displaced leg fracture in the second game of the season, a visit to the Portland Trail Blazers. He's eyed coming back for weeks but has struggled with nerve issues along the way.
The Lakers visit the Golden State Warriors on Saturday followed by a game at Staples Center on Christmas Day against the New York Knicks. As long as Nash doesn't suffer any negative effects from increased activity, he could play over the weekend.
Pau Gasol, out eight games with tendinitis in both knees, will return Tuesday night against the Charlotte Bobcats.
With the team's starting lineup starting to reform after a painful 11-14 record, has some of the anxiety lifted for D'Antoni?
"Anxiety? No, it's still there. We're so far in the hole right now ... for a coach the anxiety never goes away," he said. "Second of all, our record is not good enough for me to feel better, but we do see some lights at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, it's not a train coming at us."
Have the Lakers hit rock bottom, after losing four straight recently, and are they now finally climbing back up?
"I hope it has been [hit], but every time I say that we seem to find a new low," joked D'Antoni.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.