CLEVELAND -- With everybody from Xavier Henry to Jodie Meeks to Kobe Bryant playing out of position for the Los Angeles Lakers this season to fill in at point guard, it was a welcome bit of news for coach Mike D'Antoni to hear that Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar were all going to return on the road this week.
The simultaneous comebacks by the guards presented D'Antoni with an entirely different challenge to deal with. Instead of not having enough support at the point guard position, he had too much. How could he play the three veterans, plus Kendall Marshall, all at the same time?
D'Antoni explained how he plans to rotate the point guards before the Lakers played the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.
"The process is, you’re talking about probably a Hall of Fame guy," D'Antoni said of Nash. "So, yeah, I think he’ll start, and we’ll see where he is. And especially at his age, and where’s he’s at with his injury, he needs to warm up and then play. He doesn’t need to warm up, sit down for 20 minutes and then try to get out there. So that’s the [thought] process on him."
Nash started against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday and finished with seven points and nine assists in 25 minutes. As was the case before Nash missed nearly three months with nerve root irritation in his back and hamstrings, the 18-year veteran sat out against Cleveland because it was the second night of a back-to-back for L.A.
Blake shifted to shooting guard and started in the backcourt with Nash against Minnesota. While his right elbow prevented him from being a true "shooting" guard (he went just 0-for-1 from the field), he made his presence felt with six assists, five rebounds and three steals.
"He gives us a toughness that we need," D'Antoni said of Blake, who did not require anything more than eardrops for what was originally considered to be a ruptured right eardrum after he was struck in the head by Dante Cunningham on Tuesday. "Blake we need on the floor, no matter what."
Farmar dressed against the Wolves but did not play. D'Antoni chose to give Farmar an extra day's rest and then start him against the Cavs.
"Farmar deserves the play," D'Antoni explained, simply.
That leaves Marshall, who averaged 11.9 points and 11.5 assists while shooting 44.1 percent from 3 in 15 games as a starter, coming off the bench.
"Kendall needs to right now find his rhythm as a backup to Farmar, and he will," D'Antoni said before the Cavs game. "He’ll get plenty of room. But we just decided to go the other way."
Marshall had just five points, three rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes against Minnesota.
"He should be used to it," D'Antoni said of Marshall playing a reserve role. "Everybody in the league is like that. You got to get a niche. That’s what he did in Phoenix, so that’s what he has to do. It’s a little bit of an adjustment, but there’s no way he’s going to play 38 minutes on every team and be able to just have the ball all the time -- not yet. He’ll have to compete."