Injured point guards Steve Nash, left, Steve Blake, center, and Jordan… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
After going so long with only Kendall Marshall, the Lakers are suddenly awash in point guards.
Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar practiced with the team Thursday, creating a flood of players at a position that had been severely lacking.
None of the three will play Friday against Charlotte, and next Tuesday at Minnesota is the earliest they might appear.
Nash hasn't been in a game since Nov. 10 because of nerve damage in his back but said Thursday he had "extremely high hopes" of playing next week. He is averaging 6.7 points and 4.8 assists in only six games.
"I can withstand more demands, more contact, more unpredictable factors, change of direction playing against somebody," said Nash, who rehabilitated with his personal trainer in Vancouver, Canada, most of January. "Those are all things that the nerve and the spine weren't able to handle two weeks ago."
Reporters were able to watch Nash scrimmage for a few minutes before he took a seat on the sideline. He matched up against Marshall for several nondescript plays, though he got past Marshall at one point and found Jordan Hill under the basket for an easy layup.
Nash, who turns 40 on Feb. 7, mixed optimism with some caution as well.
"A month or so ago I was here practicing three days in a row and felt really good. And then two days later, for whatever reason, the nerve was pretty fired up again," he said. "So I'm going to take it day by day and the fact that I got through one day of practice is a positive."
Blake was the Lakers' most effective point guard until he sustained a torn ligament in his right elbow, a bizarre injury more commonly seen in baseball. He hasn't played since Dec. 10 and is averaging 9.8 points and 7.7 assists this season.
"I still have pain in the back of my elbow when I shoot, but I'm able to deal with it," Blake said.
Farmar has missed 24 of the Lakers' last 28 games because of two hamstring injuries. He is averaging 8.7 points and 4.7 assists.
"We've got some guys that are eager to get back and they looked pretty good [Thursday] in practice, so we'll see," said Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni. "It's not too far off."
Pau Gasol did not practice Thursday because of a sore groin and was listed as probable for Friday's game. He did an individual workout Thursday at the team's training facility.
Lakers fans can cross another date off their rapidly shrinking calendar.
There won't be any Lakers playing in the All-Star game for the first time since 1996 because none were picked as reserves Thursday by Western Conference coaches.
Kobe Bryant was voted a starter last week but immediately protested because he had played only six games this season and was shortly thereafter declared out for three weeks because of knee soreness.
The lack of Lakers was not a surprising development for a team that was half a game from last place in the West.
Gasol was their best chance at playing in the game, but his numbers only recently improved after a very slow start. The four-time All-Star has not made the team since 2011.
The All-Star game is Feb. 16 in New Orleans.