Steve Nash out at least another week, says he has “small improvement”

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Steve Nash’s return is not going to be the cavalry charging over the hill to save the Lakers day that some fans (and maybe a certain head coach) seem to think it will be. Not when their defense gave up 31 points in the last 6 minutes of the game to lowly Orlando and Lakers players were constantly pointing at each other on that end of the court.

But man, they could use him.

And they are not going to have him for a three-game road trip this week, he told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

“Another 10 days to two weeks?” Nash wondered aloud. “That’s a total guess. Since I can’t run, I’m not going to play this week….

“The recovery time is getting better,” Nash said. “But it’s a small improvement.”

The Lakers have a three game road trip this week (Houston, New Orleans and Oklahoma City), return home for one game then are back on the road for another four.

Nash has missed 15 games with a non-displaced fracture in his left leg and the Lakers continue to be very inconsistent, very up and down.

Nash can help steady the team, but he is no cure all. Nash is not going to fix a Lakers defense that looks confused. He’s not going to hit Dwight Howard’s free throws. He’s not going to get Pau Gasol to accept a role outside the post. He’s not going to get the bench to knock down shots.

Nash is part of the solution to the Lakers issues, but he is not all of it. Still the Lakers need him back and they are just waiting. As is he.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”