Lakers guard Steve Nash looks for a pass during a 97-91 loss to the Clippers… (Harry How / Getty Images )
Steve Nash and longtime Lakers trainer Gary Vitti talked after the team's shoot-around Friday morning. It wasn't a quick, "Can you play tonight? Yes? Excellent."
Not a good sign for the Lakers.
Nash missed a game for the first time with them, unable to recover from a bruised left shin and face the Clippers later in the day.
The slow start continued for the player with the fifth-most assists in NBA history.
Nash, 38, had seven points and four assists in his Lakers debut Tuesday against Dallas. He had two points and four assists a night later against Portland before leaving in the third quarter after getting kneed in the shin.
"He's made progress but he got banged pretty good," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said.
Nash was listed as day to day. The Lakers' next game is Sunday against Detroit.
Steve Blake took Nash's place and had eight points and two assists in the Lakers' 105-95 loss.
The team opted to ignore Dwight Howard's suggestion earlier in the day.
"I've been working on my guard skills the last two days so I might be Steve Nash-Howard," he said. "I'll be the point. 'Tragic Johnson,' that's what they'll call me."
Brown hears it
Brown is definitely aware that TV analysts and Lakers fans are criticizing him one week into the regular season.
"It's cute," he said.
"It's cute for people to tell me what this person said, that person said," he said.
Ah. Got it.
At least one analyst didn't disapprove of him.
Kurt Rambis said the Lakers should be given time to figure out Brown's Princeton-based offense. Rambis spent six years as an assistant under Phil Jackson before attempting to install the triangle offense in two years as the Minnesota Timberwolves' head coach.
"Phil has always felt that it takes a good part of the year for players to feel very comfortable," Rambis said. "They get to the point where they stop thinking about the offense and start thinking about the execution of it, so they can relax and start reading the defenses and make the proper adjustments based on how the defense plays."
Rambis also thought the Lakers' defensive issues could be solved.
"When I'm watching them play defense, you can see there is some confusion, talking about pick-and-roll situations; it looks like sometimes the defender is forcing the ball handler to his left, when the help is on the right," Rambis said. "To me they are not on the same page defensively yet, and that will come with time as everybody understands what they are supposed to do in every situation."
Rambis will provide in-studio analysis for ESPN and Time Warner Cable SportsNet this season. He hasn't completely closed the door on returning to the sidelines.
"It has to be a positive situation," he said. "But I'm not going to freak out if I don't get back into coaching, because I do enjoy broadcasting."
Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.