Steve Nash will play Tuesday against Houston even though his back might flare up any moment and the Lakers have been eliminated from playoff contention for almost four weeks.
He thinks he knows why.
Nash is only five assists shy of taking over third place on the NBA's all-time list. Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni is aware of it too.
"I think Mike really wants me to get this assist thing out of the way, which now I'd really like to get out the way too, frankly, because it's kind of out there in the air and everyone's kind of talking about it in L.A.," Nash said Tuesday. "I think that's one part of it."
Nash has 10,330 assists, Mark Jackson has 10,334. John Stockton is the NBA's career assists leader (15,806), followed by Jason Kidd (12,091).
Nash, 40, also said the season-ending foot injury to Kent Bazemore could keep him in the lineup for some of the Lakers' final five games.
But Nash knows he won't be passing Stockton as the league's top assist man, now or ever.
"By next Christmas," he said jokingly.
Nash has one more year on his contract for $9.7 million. The Lakers currently plan to bring him back next season instead of waiving him and spreading his salary over a three-year period.
Point guard Jordan Farmar will return Tuesday after sitting out 11 games because of a strained groin. Kendall Marshall will still be the Lakers' starter, with Nash and Farmar playing reserve roles.
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