LOS ANGELES (AP) –– The new-look Los Angeles Lakers may be without Steve Nash when they try to avoid their worst start in 34 years.
Nash is listed as doubtful for the Lakers, who have dropped their first two games heading into Friday night’s matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Lakers haven’t started 0-3 since 1978, the season before they drafted Magic Johnson with the No. 1 overall pick.
They could be without Nash, who suffered a lower leg contusion in Wednesday’s 116-106 loss at Portland.
“We’ll see how it goes, see how it calms down some more, but I couldn’t tell from this point,” Nash told the Lakers’ official website. “Maybe I’m too optimistic to say ‘doubtful,’ but it’s definitely tough.”
Steve Blake will likely start at point guard if Nash doesn’t play.
If there’s a positive sign for the Lakers, it’s Dwight Howard’s dominance Wednesday with 33 points and 14 rebounds. Howard fouled out with 19 points and 10 boards and missed 11 of 14 foul shots in Tuesday’s 99-91 home loss to Dallas.
The Lakers, though, struggled defensively against the Blazers, who placed all their starters in double figures and shot 50.6 percent.
“We’ve got to learn how to play together,” Howard said. “You’ve got to be good before you can be great.”
This will be the fourth head-to-head matchup between Howard and Clippers big man Blake Griffin. Howard has averaged 25.7 points and 14.0 rebounds while shooting 66.7 percent in those meetings, and Griffin has averaged 18.3 points and 12.7 boards while making 45.7 percent of his field-goal attempts.
Neither Griffin nor Chris Paul had big nights in the Clippers’ opener, a 101-92 home victory over Memphis on Wednesday. Those stars combined for 23 points but the bench picked up the slack with 49, led by Jamal Crawford’s 29 points in his Clippers debut.
“I may be a little biased, but I think we’re the best bench in the NBA,” Crawford told the Clippers’ official website. “A lot of us have said that this is the most talented team we’ve ever been on and a lot of that has to do with our bench.”
The Clippers got only two points from Lamar Odom, who is beginning his second stint with the club after his ill-fated 2011-12 season with Dallas that came on the heels of seven campaigns with the Lakers.
The bench will be stronger Friday since Matt Barnes will begin his second stint with the team he began his career with after serving a one-game league suspension for resisting arrest. Barnes rejoined the Clippers on Sept. 14 as a free agent after playing the last two seasons with the Lakers, and will provide depth with veteran Grant Hill out with knee problems.
“Luckily, we have Matt who can step in and give us some more size at the 3,” coach Vinny Del Negro said.
The Lakers won two of three meetings last season and captured the Pacific Division by one game over the Clippers. Kobe Bryant averaged 32.3 points on 53.1 percent shooting in those contests.
The Lakers are Friday’s home team. The Clippers have dropped nine straight as visitors in this series between Staples Center co-tenants.