With just four games left on their schedule, the Los Angeles Lakers are in control of their playoff destiny.
Their win on Tuesday against the New Orleans Hornets, combined with the Utah Jazz’s loss, have them in sole possession of the eight seed in the Western Conference. L.A. has a half-game lead over Utah, but more importantly, a one-game lead in the loss column.
If the Lakers win the rest of their regular season games, they are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. However, it won’t be easy for them to avoid any losses. Three of their final four games are against the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets. All of those clubs have a clinched a postseason berth.
Utah will play the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are 19 games under .500, in their next two games. The Jazz will close out the year with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Getting Steve Nash back on the court in a timely manner could determine whether or not the Lakers extend their 2012-2013 season passed next week. The point guard has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury. He sat out Tuesday’s contest and is doubtful to return on Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
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According to ESPN Los Angeles, Nash is hoping to return for the final three games. A source tells Dave McMenamin that the veteran is looking to play on Friday against the Warriors.
Nash is doing what he can to make it back for the final stretch run. He recently started taking a stronger medication to help get rid of the pain from his right hip injury. It’s that injury that has been giving him problems with his hamstring.
The 39-year-old has struggled to stay healthy since being traded to the Lakers in the offseason. He has played in just 50 games this season and there are just four left on the schedule. Nash hasn’t played this few games in a year since the 1999 lockout-shortened season.