The Lakers are hopeful Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash could both make their returns… (Larry W. Smith / EPA )
They've barely taken part in anything this season, but Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant will come back soon. Maybe by the end of the month.
The Lakers are targeting Jan. 28 for Nash's return. They're hopeful Bryant will be back then too.
"My understanding is that it's about the same time," Coach Mike D'Antoni said Friday. "Hopefully, both of them are ready."
Bryant and Nash, you might remember, each have played six games. That's all.
Their return would come after the Lakers' seven-game trip, their longest of the season, which starts Wednesday in Phoenix.
Kendall Marshall is the sixth starting point guard this season for the Lakers, who have become part of a larger NBA epidemic involving point guards.
The Clippers played the Lakers on Friday without Chris Paul (separated shoulder). Just this week, Phoenix's Eric Bledsoe underwent knee surgery for torn cartilage and New Orleans guard Jrue Holiday was declared out indefinitely because of a stress fracture in his leg. Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (knee) probably is out through the All-Star break, Chicago's Derrick Rose (knee) is out for the season and Boston's Rajon Rondo (knee) hasn't played in almost a year.
"That's the one good thing, it can't happen to us again because we've got them all out," D'Antoni said of the Lakers' point guard injuries.
D'Antoni was then asked if sports medicine had advanced since the old days of presumably medicating via beer and cigarettes after a game.
"I don't drink and smoke . . . although I'm thinking about starting, just the drinking part," he said.
The Lakers (14-23) had lost nine of 10 before Friday's game against the Clippers.
D'Antoni said the increase in point-guard injuries probably comes from improved diagnosis techniques compared to past decades.
"We had [injuries] all the time, except with MRIs they diagnose them a little bit better. You played with them and you didn't know you had them," he said. "But now you're out four weeks. It's better for players' careers and it's better for the health of them in the long run.
"Before, you just saw them tape 'em up, play and take a painkiller, you'd be fine. That wasn't the right way to do it and now they're doing it the right way."
Bryant continues to lead Western Conference guards in All-Star voting despite asking fans to vote for younger players such as Portland's Damian Lillard.
But whether Bryant will play in the Feb. 16 game is unclear.
"That's up to Kobe and then the trainers and doctors," D'Antoni said. "I don't have anything against anything so that's up to them."
If Bryant returns Jan. 28, he could play eight games before the All-Star break. He has been voted an All-Star starter 15 times in his career.
Bryant missed 19 games while recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon, returned for six games and was sidelined again because of a broken knee. He is averaging 13.8 points and 6.3 assists.