Steve Nash hits milestone, exits early

LOS ANGELES -- For the second straight game, Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash started but could not finish, exiting at halftime Tuesday of a 96-79 loss to the Utah Jazz because of an ongoing nerve-root irritation in his left leg.

Nash registered two points on 1-for-4 shooting, two assists and one rebound in 17 minutes against the Jazz.

The 40-year-old Nash's left leg made contact with Chicago's Kirk Hinrich on Sunday near the same spot where he suffered a fracture in the leg last season.

Against the Bulls, the nerve irritation led to Nash limping and his back tightening up. Against the Jazz, the nerve discomfort settled in his hamstring. Nash did not suffer any contact in the Utah game that prompted him to sit.

"His hamstring was a little bit fired up," said Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni. "I imagine it's day to day."

D'Antoni said Nash wanted to play in the second half, but D'Antoni along with Lakers trainer Gary Vitti "huddled" and chose to rest him.

"He didn't want to just sit out, but he couldn't go," D'Antoni said.

Nash did not speak to reporters after the game, but addressed the challenge of managing his injuries at his age after shootaround Tuesday.

"Some days it sucks but other days you feel great and you have a good session, a good game and you feel like it's all worth it," Nash said.

The loss was the Lakers' sixth straight at home, which tied a franchise worst.

Tuesday was also a significant night for Nash, though he played sparingly.

It was Nash's 10th game of the season, an important milestone because it ruled out the option of a medical retirement and having his entire $9.7 million salary for 2014-15 come off the Lakers' books.

If a veteran player participates in fewer than 10 games in a season and is found physically unable to play by team and league doctors, he can become eligible for the medical retirement route.

"I'm pretty concerned," said Steve Blake, who had problems of his own, hyper-extending his sore right elbow en route to a 2-for-11 shooting night. "I know he's dealing with a lot of pain. I see how hard he has to work just to get in the few minutes that he has been playing. So to see him have to go out again, you never know how serious it is or what not. So I'm concerned for him."