It what is the biggest must-win game of the season for the Lakers Tuesday night — at home against the Mavericks, the two teams chasing the Jazz for the final playoff spot in the West — they will be without one of their key off-season acquisitions.
Steve Nash, who has been limited the last couple Lakers games with a hip injury, is out Tuesday night, according to official Lakers reporter Mike Trudell.
This was expected, the Lakers had hinted this was coming. Steve Blake will get the start in his place.
The Lakers enter Tuesday night half a game back of the Jazz but still tied in the loss column. Win and Los Angeles is tied. Lose and they are a game back — and Utah has the tie breaker (the Jazz won the season series), so the Lakers can’t finish the season tied with the Jazz. Being one game back is like being two back for them.
The Mavericks are two back, one in the loss column. Lose to the Lakers and they are virtually out of it, having to leapfrog two teams with 8 games left in their season. Win and they are still in it (plus they get to .500 and get to shave their beards).
It’s not a literal must-win, but it’s close to it. Very close.