Pau Gasol is greeted by injured teammate Steve Nash in the closing seconds… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
Steve Nash participated in half-court five-on-five in practice with the Lakers on Friday, his first practice since being sidelined with hip and hamstring soreness during a brief appearance against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 30.
The veteran guard said he's hopeful he'll be ready for Game 1 of the Lakers' first-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs.
"Mentally, I'm chomping at the bit. Physically, I'm getting there,” Nash said. “I'm very optimistic that I'll play on Sunday. I just don't want to over-promise and get ahead of myself."
Nash said he’s not pain-free but that he feels "less inhibited."
"I couldn't sprint," he said. "There was too much inhibition from the nerve. It was just shutting me down whenever I tried to cover some ground. That's why I couldn't play the last few weeks, it's hard to play an NBA game if you can't change ends of the floor."
Nash said that sitting down during the last stretch of the regular season has been difficult.
"The last almost three weeks now, I wake up thinking ‘Today's the day,’ and I want to hang myself after practice,” he said. “I don't want to over-promise at this point but I'm very optimistic.”
Coach Mike D'Antoni called Nash a "game-time decision" after Friday's practice. He also said he might start Steve Blake alongside Nash in the back court when the series starts in San Antonio.
Starting at point guard for the injured Nash, Blake 23 points helped lead the Lakers to a 91-86 victory over the Spurs last Sunday.
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