Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 12/9/12
Steve Nash could return during the Lakers four-game trip that starts Tuesday in Cleveland, Coach Mike DAntoni said Sunday after his teams shoot-around. I wouldnt put my reputation on it. Its possible, DAntoni said. The Lakers trip also includes stops in New York on Thursday, Washington on Friday and Philadelphia on Sunday. Nash has missed 18 games because of a small fracture in his fibula. He continues to progress in his recovery, completing resistance training Sunday and shooting free throws. DAntoni said hes starting to see more of an upbeat attitude from Nash as he gets closer to returning. I think so. I hope so, DAntoni said. I want it so bad sometimes I think Im seeing things that might not be there, so I dont know. But obviously hes doing more, but hes got a ways to go yet. Meanwhile, the Lakers will continue to be without Pau Gasol on Sunday when they play host to Utah at Staples Center. The power forward will sit out a fourth game as he rests his knees, which have been plagued by tendinitis. DAntoni said when the struggling Gasol returns it will be as a starter. The coach said he wants to see how Nash and Gasol play together before making any changes to his lineup. Im not going to mess with Pau, DAntoni said, alluding to the possibility of bringing the four-time All-Star off the bench. Hes too important to the team and hes earned it and hes too good of a player to even go there yet. That would be a last-resort kind of thing, desperate. Gasol has averaged 12.6 points and has shot 42, both putting him on pace for career lows. DAntoni said part of Gasols ineffectiveness could be tied to deficiencies in the Lakers offensive scheme. Theres times when were not exploiting him, where he should be and what hes doing and everything, DAntoni said. So its a little bit out of kilter and until we get it all straight and balanced, then I really cant make a decision or he cant feel comfortable. DAntoni said Gasols status would be reevaluated before the Lakers start their trip. Probably into Cleveland or someplace hell start moving a little bit, DAntoni said, and if the pain is less or very little, then hell play. -Ben Bolch
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