Steve Nash, Steve Blake to start tonight for Lakers

Steve Nash, Steve Blake to start tonight for Lakers
Steve Nash, left, and Steve Blake wait to rejoin the action during a Lakers preseason game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center back in October. Both have been out for weeks with injuries. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

MINNEAPOLIS -- Steve Nash and Steve Blake will start for the Lakers on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, ending lengthy injury absences for the Lakers' point guards.

Don't expect Nash, who turns 40 on Friday, to play 48 minutes. He'll play the first five to eight minutes and then sit until the third quarter starts, Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said. Then he'll play another five to eight minutes before likely being done for the night.

That's fine with Nash, who has been sidelined since Nov. 10 because of nerve damage in his back.

"I'm open. I don't know what the best plan is," Nash said after the team's shoot-around. "I'm kind of just letting Gary [Vitti] and Mike piece together what they think might be the best opportunity. We'll see how it goes."


Blake will be the shooting guard when on the floor with Nash.

Vitti is the Lakers' longtime trainer. Nash will not play Wednesday against Cleveland because it is a back-to-back situation.

Blake has been out since Dec. 10 because of a torn elbow ligament. He says there is still pain when he snaps his right arm while shooting but he will not need surgery after this season.

Kendall Marshall will go to the bench after starting at point guard for 15 games. He has averaged 10.5 points and 9.6 assists since being signed by the Lakers in late December.

D'Antoni said he spoke to Marshall about heading back to reserve status.

"He's fine. He's good," D'Antoni said.

The Lakers will keep Jodie Meeks in the starting lineup, giving them a small three-guard look. Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly will start down low.

"We're small but we'll try to get away with it for a while," D'Antoni said. "We're just kind of hunting and pecking right now."

Blake was averaging 9.8 points and 7.7 assists when he was injured. Nash averaged 6.7 points and 4.8 assists in only six games this season.

The Lakers (16-31) have lost six consecutive games. Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant will not play on this three-game trip, which ends Friday in Philadelphia.