PHOENIX — Phoenix playmaker Steve Nash sat out practice on Saturday and will do so again on Sunday to rest his sore right hip.
The two-time league MVP said the rest should make him ready for Monday night’s Western Conference semifinal opener against the San Antonio Spurs. The team had Friday off, so that would mean three days’ rest before he plays again.
“It’s getting better,” Nash said on Saturday. “I’ve had two good days, so I’m really fortunate that we don’t play until Monday. It will give me a chance to recover a little bit. “
The 36-year-old point guard strained the hip during the shootaround before Game 3 of the Suns’ first-round series against Portland. He says the injury bothered him that night, but he felt better in Games 4 and 5. However, he says the injury “was pretty bad” in Phoenix’s series clinching 99-90 victory in Portland on Thursday night.
“It was the worst that it’s been, so a couple of days here are really good for me,” he said.
Coach Alvin Gentry called Nash’s problem “a little hip thing” and no big deal.
“If it was a big deal I wouldn’t be so calm,” Gentry said.
Nash struggled through much of Thursday’s game, starting with a career-worst six first-quarter turnovers. He finished with 10 points on 2-of-7 shooting with seven turnovers. But he had two big plays down the stretch, penetrating the lane and passing to Amare Stoudemire for a dunk, then sinking his only 3-point attempt of the night.
Gentry said he saw no reason to put Nash through a practice, deadpanning “I think he has a pretty good idea of what we’re trying to do.”
“We were going to go pretty hard today. I didn’t want him out there doing that,” Gentry said. “I gave him the day off. He came down, shot some, got some treatment and he’ll do the same tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, center Robin Lopez has increased his participation in practice as he works his way back from a back injury (bulging disk). Gentry said he is not going to put any pressure on the 7-footer to return.
“It’s going to be totally up to him,” Gentry said. “If he feels great and he’s ready to go that will be fine. If he’s not, we’re not putting him out there. I can tell you that right now.”
Lopez said he’s optimistic he could play at some point in the series, where his size would be an obvious help against Tim Duncan.
“It’s up to the leg, it’s up to the nerve,” Lopez said.
He’s not ready to play yet, though.
“If I played today,” Lopez joked, “I think Duncan might get that quadruple double he was aiming for a few years’ back.”